Update from Ottawa Public Health

The amount of COVID-19 in our community is higher than ever and testing facilities cannot keep up with demand.  Case counts in the community are an under-representation of COVID-19 in Ottawa. Because of this, health system partners are prioritizing testing for people in high-risk groups. Testing is not a cure, our actions are what is important in slowing the spread of COVID-19.  

To monitor COVID-19 in Ottawa we are using wastewater data, hospitalizations, and ICU capacity. For the latest information, visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVID19. 

Please continue to monitor yourself for symptoms of COVID-19.  If you are sick, assume it is COVID-19. Stay home and self isolate. Self isolation recommendations can be found using the provincial tool. Follow all public health measures such as wearing a well-fitted mask when in public and keep gatherings small and outside when possible. 

The reality is that we are in a new chapter of this pandemic and we know that vaccines offer protection against serious illness due to COVID-19.  If you haven’t gotten vaccinated yet, and you are eligible for a 1st, 2nd, or booster dose, please do.   

Appointments will continue to be added to the Provincial booking system, and we recommend signing up for the City’s  COVID-19 vaccination update e-subscription, OPH website for COVID-19 Vaccine, and social media channels for the latest information.  If you know someone who is thinking about getting vaccinated, reach out and offer to talk to them about it and assist in booking their appointment.  

There is hope that COVID will eventually be managed like other respiratory viruses, but we’re not there yet. Continuing to focus on these vaccine efforts during this time brings us one step closer. 

Right now, we do not know what the next few weeks will bring. We do know it will be a challenge. Whatever comes please remember to be kind:  offer to help friends and neighbours if you’re able, order-in from a local restaurant, buy a gift card to a local shop, or find ways to get outdoors with members of your household or connect with friends. 

If you need more supports, please reach out. Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.  Additional information on protecting your mental health is here. 

Updated Provincial Isolation Guidelines 

On December 30, 2021, the provincial government  changed the required isolation period based on growing evidence that generally healthy people with COVID-19 are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop.  

The Ontario Government has provided an online screening tool and information on how to self-isolate if you have been exposed and how to care for someone with COVID-19.

Provincial Public Health Measures and Guidance 

With the highly transmissible Omicron variant, we know that COVID-19 activity is high and spreading rapidly in our community and we must do what we can to protect those at higher-risk and those who work in higher-risk settings during this Omicron surge. 

On January 3, 2022, the Province released new guidelines in response to the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The COVID-19 virus is very active in our community, with positive cases having a high number of exposures. We are strongly urging all persons to screen themselves daily, stay home if unwell, assess personal risks when leaving the house and pausing indoor events with individuals outside of your household regardless of vaccination status.  

Ottawa Public Health supports the announcement by the Province as it provides additional protection to higher-risk settings while continuing to preserve hospitals’ capacity. We will get to a point one day when COVID-19 will be treated similarly to other respiratory illnesses, but right now we need to focus on slowing further transmission. 

Please stay home if you are unwell or have symptoms. Let’s protect each other and help bring down our active case counts. 

Below are the changes as announced by the Ontario Government that came into effect on January 5, 2022, as part of Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopen.   

Schools, Child Care and Libraries 

  • All publicly funded and private schools moved to remote learning starting January 5 until at least January 17, subject to public health trends and operational considerations. 
  • School buildings permitted to open for childcare operations, including emergency childcare, to provide in-person instruction for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated remotely, and for staff who are unable to deliver quality instruction from home. 
  • Full access to school-based academic and mental health supports 
  • During this period of remote learning, free emergency childcare will be provided for school-aged children of health care and other eligible frontline workers. 
  • Public libraries limited to 50 per cent capacity. 

Social Gatherings and Events:  

  • Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors. 
  • Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors. 
  • Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Social gatherings associated with these services must adhere to the social gathering limits.  
  • Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions. 

Retail Settings and Other Employers:  

  • Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50 per cent capacity. For shopping malls, physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted, and food courts will be required to close. 
  • Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Saunas, steam rooms, and oxygen bars closed. 
  • Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site. 

Food Establishments:  

  • Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted. 
  • Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted. 

Entertainment Venues:  

  • Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas – rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions 
  • Closing museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50 per cent capacity. 
  • Closing indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy limited to 50 per cent capacity.  
  • Boat tours permitted at 50 per cent capacity. 

Fitness Facilities:  

  • Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select professional and elite amateur sport leagues. Outdoor facilities are permitted to operate but with the number of spectators not to exceed 50 per cent occupancy and other requirements.  

Hospitals and regulated health professionals: 

  • Reinstating Directive 2:  instructing hospitals to pause all non-emergent and non-urgent surgeries and procedures in order to preserve critical care and human resource capacity 

Long-Term Care – temporary measures came into effect December 30, 2021 at 12:01am 

  • Access to long-term care homes by general visitors will be paused. Designated caregivers may continue to enter long-term care homes. 
  • Day absences for all residents for social purposes will be paused. 
  • Earlier policy put in place requires all staff caring for a resident with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 to wear a fit-tested, seal-checked N95 respirator