Good evening Kanata North,
As announced earlier today, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is imposing a provincewide emergency brake as a result of an alarming surge in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province. The provincewide emergency brake will be effective Saturday, April 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and the government intends to keep this in place for at least four weeks.
Ottawa Public Health continues to report daily new numbers in the triple digits when it comes to people testing positive for COVID-19. 116 today, 117 yesterday, 112 Tuesday, 184 Monday. Our healthcare system is stretched. Hospitalizations are increasing, and the testing centres are maxed out.
I appreciate all your efforts thus far, but we need to take things further to keep our community healthy and safe. The COVID-19 situation is evolving for the worse in our city as this third wave is being driven by variants of concern that are much more dangerous.
Ottawa wastewater samples indicated 10% traces of COVID-19 variants on March 20. A mere five days later, on March 25, that number jumped to 50%. These variants pose a much higher risk to everyone, including our younger population. According to latest projections, the risk of ICU admission is 2 x higher and risk of death is 1.5 x higher for the B.1.1.7 variant.
The growing transmission rates mainly stem from one thing: people from different households gathering and not wearing masks. This needs to stop. The situation is critical, and we all need to do our part in reducing the spread of COVID-19.
More vaccines are on the way—a forecasted 148,000 doses in the next two weeks, but this is not enough to outmatch the spread of the virus in Ottawa.
While we are seeing transmission among all age groups, the majority of current transmission is occurring in the 20 to 39 age group. This age group will not be protected by vaccines for months. COVID-19 affects all of us and this virus does not discriminate. COVID-19 is everywhere.
The provincewide emergency brake puts in place time-limited public health and workplace safety measures to help reduce the rapid transmission of COVID-19 variants in our community, protect hospital capacity, and save lives. Measures include, but are not limited to:
- Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a5-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household (the people you live with) or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.
- Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings.
- 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies
- 25 per cent for all other retail including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures
- Prohibiting personal care services
- Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will bepermittedto operate by take-out, drive-through, and delivery only
- Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness (e.g., gyms) withvery limitedexceptions
- Requiring day camps to close
- Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services,ritesor ceremonies to 15 per cent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance outdoors. This does not include social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors.
On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, all Ontarians are asked to:
- Limit trips outside the home to necessities such as food, medication, medical appointments, supporting vulnerable community members, or exercising outdoors with members of their household.
- Employers in all industries should make every effort to allow employees to work from home.
More information can be found on the provincial website.
Impact on City of Ottawa Services and Recreation Programs
To support and comply with the province-wide four-week shutdown that will be in effect as of 12:01 am Saturday, April 3, the city will temporarily close city-managed recreation and cultural facilities for most indoor activities, limit the capacity at outdoor recreation amenities and suspend in-person city counter services. The shutdown comes into effect on Saturday, April 3 at 12:01 am.
The temporary closures will not impact the operations for respite centres, vaccination clinics, COVID-19 assessment centres, municipal childcare centres, Before-and-After School Programs and inclusive recreation programs.
Recreation and cultural facilities will close or remain closed to the public – including recreation complexes, community centres, arenas, swimming pools, theatres, museums and art galleries.
The following recreation and cultural programs will temporarily suspend operations:
- All reserved recreation activities – including indoor skating, swimming (public and lane swims), cardio-weight rooms, sports activities – team play and practices, and indoor fitness classes
- Any aquatic program scheduled to begin in April
- Select cultural programs that operated by reservation only at Nepean Visual Arts Centre and Shenkman Arts Centre
Start of Spring Learn to Swim and Certification aquatic programs delayed
Aquatic programs scheduled to begin in April will be delayed until Ottawa transitions to a lower restriction level. Registered clients will be contacted by City staff and provided program amendment information.
Restrictions in parks and outdoor sports facilities
No team or group recreation, sports play, scrimmage or training are permitted. Most outdoor park amenities are open and the reduced gathering limit of five people and physical distancing must be followed.
Outdoor refrigerated rinks and Terry Fox Athletic Facility will remain closed until further notice. In line with typical seasonal opening dates, ball diamonds will remain closed until May 1, and sports fields will remain closed until May 15. Permits for synthetic turf fields are suspended until further notice.
Virtual recreation and cultural programs
Residents can still sign up for many virtual recreation and arts offerings from arts, fitness, music and culinary courses. Visit ottawa.ca/virtualprograms for the list of available courses and registration.
Counter services and other in-person service suspended or altered
The City will temporarily suspend in-person services effective Tuesday, April 5, including:
- City Hall and Ben Franklin Place (101 Centrepointe Drive) Client Service Centres and Building Code Services counters. Client Services Centres will suspend our current in-person counter services which will move to online delivery. Building Code Services will continue to provide courier, curbside, email and telephone alternate service delivery options.
- The Provincial Offences Act courthouse, located at 100 Constellation Drive, Nepean, will remain closed.
- The Business Licensing Centre at 735 Industrial Avenue is open for drop-off of documents only and clients can call 613-580-2424 ext. 12735 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The City’s Central Archives’ Reference Room at the James K. Bartleman Centre, located at 100 Tallwood Drive
Altered services include:
- Complaints for unauthorized parking on private property will continue to require new electronic procedures for proof of authority.
- Residents needing financial assistance are asked call us at 3-1-1 and select option #4 for Social Services for information on all programs and services.
- People cannot visit the Employment and Social Services or Rent Supplement offices, but staff are available to help residents by phone, email and mail from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday.
- Ontario Works claimants do not need to drop off any documents, including income reporting statements. Those documents can be given the case worker at a later date.
Ottawa Library Services
Operating Ottawa Public Library (OPL) branches will be open holds pickup and returns. You can consult OPL’s hours and locations web page at any time. Visit the OPL website for further information and to access library services online.
Acquiring City services or doing transactions online
While all counter services are suspended, residents can acquire some services and complete payments and registrations online or by phone or cheque. Please confirm with your City contact prior to mailing a cheque.
Residents can go to myservice.ottawa.ca to pay water bills and your interim property taxes. If you do not have an account, registration is simple – just sign-up with your email address.
City bills have other payment options besides the myservice.ottawa.ca accounts, which include:
- Paying by credit or debit card online at ottawa.ca
- Paying through your financial institution by creating a payee number on your institution’s mobile app or through an ATM machine
- Paying by phone with your financial institution
- Sending a cheque by mail
Visit ottawa.ca to access many other services online as well – including pet registration, open-air fire permit, parking tickets, and load Presto Cards.
Vaccine Rollout Update
The Province is expanding pharmacy and primary care locations for COVID-19 vaccinations. 34 pharmacies in Ottawa will soon begin providing AstraZeneca vaccinations to Ottawa residents age 55 and older, including 7 in Kanata. More information is available here.
These vaccinations are separate from OPH and the City of Ottawa’s vaccination roll-out. Residents are asked to call participating pharmacies directly to book or the Province of Ontario Vaccination Information Line at 1-888-999-6488 if they have questions on the pharmacy vaccination program.
In addition, the Province confirmed that Ottawa will receive more than 11,000 doses of AstraZeneca next week, which will be distributed to select Community Health Centres and Family Health Teams. Additional information, including locations and booking details, will be available shortly.
This past Monday, all residents age 70 and older (born in or before 1951) became eligible under the provincial framework to receive a vaccine. There was tremendous demand for appointments which resulted in all available appointments at community clinics being filled until April 7th. The Ottawa Emergency Operations Centre continues to work diligently with the Province to secure more vaccine supply and open new appointments in the Provincial Booking System.
In addition, as was announced yesterday, adult recipients of chronic home health care living anywhere in Ottawa can book an appointment at the Canterbury pop-up clinic or any of the City’s other pop-up clinics. Eligible residents or their caregivers can call 613-691-5505 to confirm eligibility and book an appointment.
Also new this week, patient-facing high-priority health care workers such as opticians, chiropractors, and psychologists are now able to pre-register for a vaccination appointment. Specific faith leaders who, as part of their regular role, are at increased risk of exposure to COVID-19 are also now eligible to pre-register. Eligible residents are encouraged to visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca to confirm eligibility and pre-register.
Ottawa’s Emergency Operations Centre continues to plan for Ottawa’s Phase 2 vaccination rollout in accordance with the Province’s three-phase plan while also working with partners to provide vaccines to health care workers, Indigenous adults (16+), eligible residents in high-priority neighbourhoods and individuals residing in other congregate care settings for seniors, including high risk shelters. Capacity will be increased as additional vaccine supply is available. To date, more than 145,000 doses have been administered in Ottawa. Visit OPH’s COVID-19 Vaccination Dashboard for up-to-date information on COVID-19 vaccinations in Ottawa.
I know these latest announcements and restrictions are difficult to hear, but please do your part in reducing the spread of the virus. We can and must do better! Please continue to follow the provincial guidelines and Ottawa Public Health recommendations to help keep COVID-19 under control.
This Easter long weekend is usually a time to celebrate and get together with family and friends. Please be mindful and make new memories by celebrating together virtually.
- Do not gather with people you don’t live with except for essential caregivers or if you live alone.
- Do not gather with friends or extended family indoors.
- Do not share meals.
- Focus on outdoor activities where you can maintain distance from others you don’t live with and wear a mask. While the outdoors reduces the risk of transmission, it does not remove the risk entirely.
I know how hard this is. I feel it too. However, we must continue to limit contacts and interactions, stay home as much as possible and especially if sick, wear a mask, practice good hand hygiene and get tested if you think you may be infected.
Please reach out if you need anything. I, and your community are here to help if you need it. Consider checking in virtually with family, friends and neighbours, and please seek help if needed. You can find available community resources on my website.
Stay home. Stay safe. Be COVIDWise.