TORONTO -- Ontario can expect an announcement next week on expanding social gathering rules, the province's health minister says.

Health Minister Christine Elliott said at Queen’s Park on Friday the government is “studying very closely” the idea of increasing the current social gathering limitations.

"I know people are wanting to spend more time with family and friends, so the Chief Medical Officer of Health is giving that very serious consideration," Elliot said. 

"You can expect to hear from us, I would expect, next week on that issue."

Elliot said with warmer weather on the way, Ontarians will want to “get together for barbeques and other occasions” and that the government is looking for the safest way to allow for that. 

The current guidelines issued by the provincial government say that "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 guidelines say. 

In March, the Ontario government made gatherings of more than five people, with the exception of those who live together, illegal. The order still remains in place.

Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams said the relaxed measure will aim to "to meet social needs while keeping (the virus' reproductive rate) down at this time."

He cautioned that Ontario is still recording hundreds of new infections each day.

"We still have a significant number of positives occurring every day – we’re not at 10 or 12 a day."

He said increasing gathering numbers too drastically would make contact tracing of new cases very difficult.

Premier Doug Ford said Friday that if families choose to gather this long weekend they should practice physical distancing. 

"If you're going to go see your grandchildren or your kids, if you can be outside, stay outside and have a barbeque," Ford said. 

"Make sure you are two meters away from each other."

Ford sparked confusion about Ontario's social gathering guidelines earlier this week when he said he spent Mother's Day with his four daughters at home. Two of his daughters live at home with him and his wife, but the other two do not. 

"There was six of us, direct family," Ford said Tuesday. "None of the husbands, boyfriends came, just themselves."

Ford told reporters at the time that he trusts “the judgement of the people of Ontario” and that if people keep their gatherings small as possible, "that would be very helpful."

Ontario recorded 341 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, while noting that a data error on Thursday incorrectly reported the lowest number of new patients in six weeks.