Ontario Premier Doug Ford said Monday that he had family over to his home despite his government’s guidelines on physical distancing and ban on social gatherings with more than five people.
A reporter asked Ford if Ontario will soon let families create a “bubble” with one other household, as New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have already done.
“I really trust the judgment of the people of Ontario. If you have an elderly mother or father and their health isn’t great, I wouldn’t chance it,” he said at his daily briefing on COVID-19.
“I’ll give you an example at our home. We have the girls. The girls came over, there were six of us, direct family. None of the husbands, boyfriends, no one came, just themselves. I think if we can keep it to as small as possible gatherings, that would be very helpful.”
He then pivoted to talk about how shortages of yeast and flour are affecting his daughters, who love to bake.
“By the way, I make the best cherry cheesecake ever,” he said. “I do it from scratch, no recipe. I got it down pat.”
Ontario’s emergency order, which is still in effect, bans social gatherings with more than five people.
The province is also urging everyone to practice physical distancing.
“Everyone in Ontario should practice physical distancing to reduce their exposure to other people — this means staying at least two metres away from anyone outside your household,” the official guidance says.
Another journalist later asked Ford if his comment meant that it’s now OK to host small gatherings and see family.
He said two of his daughters live with him, so he had two extra people from outside his household over. He then warned people not to put their parents in danger.
‘Use your best judgment’
“When it comes to seniors and our parents, use your best judgment. The best thing to do is protect your parents,” he said.
“Hopefully in the next few weeks or month … then you can go see your parents. But people are the best when it comes to their own judgment and the health and wellbeing of their parents.”
A spokesperson for Ford did not directly answer HuffPost Canada’s questions about whether the province’s guidance — which tells people to avoid any non-essential visits — has changed.
“We understand that people want to spend more time with their friends, family and loved ones,” spokesperson Ivana Yelich said by email.
“Thanks to our collective efforts, we are now in a position where we can start to plan to ease public health measures. As we do, we continue to rely on Ontarians to use their best judgement when interacting with individuals from outside their household, e.g., staying six feet apart, ensuring people are symptom free, and continuing to practice proper hygiene.”
Last week, Ford faced criticism when it was revealed that he briefly visited his cottage after asking other people not to leave their homes for cottage country.
At a press conference Friday, he said that blowback was fair.
“First of all, I think any criticism directed towards me is fair,” he said.
He explained that he had the morning of Easter Sunday off, which was the first time off he had in months, and wanted to make sure the cottage was OK because pipes burst “a couple years ago” and caused bad damage.
“I hopped in the pickup truck … at 6:30 in the morning. I drove up there and checked out to make sure everything was OK and it was. I literally hopped back in my truck and drove right back. I was back by noon. That’s what happened.”