Create a social circle during COVID-19
We are pausing social circles in Ontario.
As of October 2, 2020, you should limit close contact to people living in your own household and keep two metres physical distance from everyone else. If you live alone, you can consider having close contact with one other household you trust. You must keep 2 metres from people outside of your household.
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About social circles
As we continue our shared fight against coronavirus (COVID-19), social circles are a way to safely expand the number of people with whom you can come in close contact. Think of your social circle as the people you can hug and touch, or those who can become part of your daily and weekly routines.
You can now establish a family or social circle of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing.
Everyone living in the same household is in a social circle.
People in the same social circle:
- do not have to physically distance
- can hug and touch each other
- should continue to follow public health advice, including frequently washing their hands and taking everyday actions to help stop the spread of COVID-19
Why social circles are important
Close contact with people beyond your household is important to:
- connect and be close with family and friends outside of your immediate household to reduce social isolation
- support the mental health and wellbeing of Ontarians during the COVID-19 outbreak
- allow some families to get additional support with child care, elder care and other personal needs
- allow for more rapid contact tracing in the event of a case of COVID-19 in a social circle
We can trace and isolate COVID-19 quickly and effectively when you limit the number of people you come into close contact with.
Create a safe social circle
Follow these steps to create a safe circle.
Step 1: Start with your current circle: anyone you live with or who regularly comes into your household
Be sure to include anyone that would come into regular close contact with you and the people you live with.
This may be:
- family members, including children
- your roommates
- another parent to your child(ren) that lives outside the home
- a babysitter or caregiver
If you add people outside of your household to your social circle, be sure to include anyone in their households as well. You may not see them often, but they would still be considered part of your current circle.
Remember that everyone in a household must be part of the same social circle.
Step 2: If under 10 people, you can add members to your social circle, including another household, family members or friends
As you add additional members, ask yourself:
- Do they live with or come into regular close contact with anyone else? You may never see them, but they would still be considered part of your social circle.
- What makes most sense for you or your household? That could include another household with similarly-aged children or family members that you want to spend more time with.
If you live alone, you may want to start with family members or other close friends. People may, or may not, choose to participate in a social circle depending on their unique circumstance, and risk of developing complications from COVID-19, for example people:
- over 70
- with compromised immune systems
- with underlying medical conditions
Remember that your social circle can include fewer than 10 people. It’s always best to start slow and safely add more members later.
Step 3: Get agreement from everyone that they will join the social circle
That means they agree to join only one circle, and physically distance with anyone outside the circle.
Essential workers can be part of a social circle, so long as the other members are aware of the risks and agree to them.
Step 4: Keep your social circle safe
To keep the people in your social circle safe:
- continue to follow public health advice, including frequent hand washing and sneezing and coughing into a sleeve
- continue to physically distance with anyone outside your circle by keeping two metres or six feet apart from them
If someone in your circle feels sick
They should immediately inform other members of the circle, self-isolate at home and not come into close contact with anyone, including other members of the circle.
They should also get tested.
Find an assessment centre to get tested for COVID-19.
Everyone else in the circle should closely monitor themselves for symptoms of COVID-19. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19 you should also be tested.
Step 5: Be true to your social circle
No one should be part of more than one circle.
Learn about examples of social circles and learn how to create your own in this step-by step guideline.