Ford’s visit from daughters sparks clarification from public health leaders

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford told reporters two of his daughters that don’t live with him visited his home this Mother’s Day weekend, despite the ongoing provincial limit for small gatherings and that there’s no formal policy around visiting family members' households. 

Ford gave the revelation when asked about when there may be more guidance around Ontarians visiting family members as the number of daily new cases has been decreasing. 

“The girls came over, there was six of us, direct family, none of the husbands, boyfriends, no one came,” he said. “I think if we can keep it to as small as possible gatherings, that would be very helpful.” 

The current provincial limit on small gatherings is five people, with the exception of those that live together, however, two of Ford’s four daughters live outside the home. 

Ford was asked if there’s a new message for Ontarians who have been holding off visiting family members throughout the pandemic. 

“I had two more there, but when it comes to seniors and our parents, use your best judgement, the best thing to do is protect your parents,” he said. “Hopefully in the next few weeks or month or whenever the numbers we see consistent (going down), then you can see your parents.” 

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams declined to comment on Ford’s visit specifically because he didn’t know all the details, but did confirm that close contact with others is still restricted to those who live within your household. 

He added that a challenge with people coming inside of a home is being able to maintain physical distancing guidelines and most cases of community spread are between family in close contact.

“How are you going to maintain the six-foot distance the whole time?” he said. “You have to assess and address that.” 

Like many families in the province and across the country, Williams’ own relatives visited this weekend, but remained outside on the porch or on the lawn. 

On the path towards expanding peoples' ‘social bubble’ Williams said there’s no answer yet.

“We have not yet opened that proviso up yet and how that might work,” he said, adding the development will depend heavily on new daily cases continuing to decrease so that contact tracing is more thorough. 

“If we knew what your contacts are, then we can actually move quickly,” he said. “Not only are we concerned about you, we’re concerned about them and you should be concerned about them too.” 

The ‘double-bubble’ approach is being done in Newfoundland and New Brunswick where one household is allowed to interact with another, but only that one. 

Toronto’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Eileen de Villa said Toronto Public Health is watching how the approach develops out east, but the city isn’t ready for it. 

“I think we are still monitoring very carefully, for now, we’re still with the single household perspective,” she said, adding while she appreciates the need for social interaction, she still encourages households not to mix.

“Continue to maintain your household bubble for now because we are still in the midst of trying to control the spread of COVID-19 in our community.”

Last week, the public learned Ford went up to his cottage despite the plea to Ontarians not to do so.

He said it was to check the pipes of the home out of concern, by himself and returned without interacting with anyone.