Both Ottawa Public Health and the Ontario government announced new restrictions aimed at curbing COVID-19 spread on Friday.
Many of the restrictions overlap — setting 50 per cent capacity limits on restaurants, gyms and other indoor settings, notably — but some areas covered in the parallel orders are more specific in Ottawa and more general across Ontario.
Ontario’s orders come into effect on Sunday at 12:01 a.m., while Ottawa’s are active as of Monday at the same time.
One standout move from the province was to limit gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Dr. Vera Etches said Friday afternoon that she is writing a legally binding “letter of instruction” to local businesses imposing capacity limits of 50 per cent on a number of indoor settings.
Businesses affected by the order include:
- Restaurants and bars
- Meeting and event spaces
- Places of worship
- Personal care services such as hair salons
- Indoor gyms and recreation complexes
- Concert venues, theatres, cinemas
- Museums, galleries and similar attractions
- Casinos, bingo halls
- Fairs, festivals and similar events
Capacities must also be limited to allow for two metres of physical distancing between residents in these settings.
Ontario’s own, more general restrictions also include 50 per cent capacity limits on retailers, malls and grocery stores.
Etches’ order includes places of worship in the capacity limits, while Ontario’s doesn’t.
Ottawa’s restrictions also limit the number of people dining at a single table to six, while elsewhere in Ontario the cap is 10. Ontario is forcing all restaurants and bars to close at 11 p.m. and stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m.
Etches also said she’s calling on all employers in Ottawa to allow their staff to work from home wherever possible.
She also asked Ottawa residents to “pause” participation in indoor team sports to reduce opportunities for COVID-19 to spread but did not take the step of explicitly shutting down organized recreational activities.
Bylaw officers will be enforcing the capacity limits starting Monday, largely responding on a complaint-by-complaint basis.
Etches said she was supportive of limits on private gatherings and encouraged residents to gather with as few people as possible over the holidays.
Ottawa Public Health reported 309 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, 110 more cases than the day before, hitting highs not seen since last spring’s peak.
Active cases hit 1,223 on Friday.
There are three people in hospital with COVID-19, but Etches warned that hospitalizations and deaths are lagging indicators and the current trajectory could see the city’s health-care system overwhelmed in the weeks ahead.
“We’re on the worst possible curve in terms of where the people testing positive is going,” she said.