Are All Circles Created Equal?

The Ontario Government has recently announced that we are now able to create social circles of 10 people without physical distancing. However, it appears that these circles have created some confusion.

The circle of 10 means that every individual within that circle is only in close contact with the others in that group. You cannot be part of more than one circle!

There are important things to consider when building your circle, such as each member’s:

  • Health status (risk factors such as auto-immune conditions, etc.,)
  • Age (older age increases risk)
  • Whether they are working at home or onsite (and where the work is located)

A circle of 10 with people from multiple households, where some are frontline workers, has much greater risk of virus spread than a circle of 10 with two families joining, of which none of them are working outside the home.

When considering if you want to be part of a circle, you need to asses the risk to yourself and the risk you pose to others. Regardless of the government’s position of allowing social circles of 10 with direct contact, based on your own exposure and risk to both yourself and others, it may be in your best interest to still maintain social distancing during visits. If you cannot form a circle, that is ok! You can still spend time with loved ones while maintaining a safe distance of 6 feet (and preferably outside).

Take my case, for example. I am a healthcare worker that is in contact with multiple people a day. I live with my husband, so we are a circle of two. Because of my work exposure, I have decided to not extend my circle by exposing my children and other family members living outside my household (in case I am an asymptomatic carrier.) I still see my children and other family members, but only outside in their backyards at the appropriate physical distance of 6 feet. Even then, gatherings of people respecting physical distancing still must not be greater than 10 people under our current guidelines.

It is very important that we use good judgement in following these protocols and do not try to look for loopholes to bend the rules. We need to protect those in our community that are high-risk. It is easy to become complacent when the level of cases is currently low, however we are trying to prevent a resurgence that could put us all at much more risk, and undo the hard work and sacrifices that we have all made.

Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health.  Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.

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