Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Vera Etches, has issued a Letter of Instruction limiting the number of people at outdoor recreational facilities, such as ice rinks.
Unless otherwise posted, the maximum capacity is 25 people at one time or fewer in order to maintain a two metre distance. There is also a signage requirement advising of masking and capacity limits. These regulations take effect on Sunday, December 26 at 12:01 am and apply to City and privately managed outdoor amenities.
At sledding hills and on trails for skating, walking, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing, the 25-person limit applies at points of potential congestion such as entrances, parking lots, changing areas, outdoor rental counters and trailheads.
- The capacity limit is determined by the number of people able to maintain a distance of two metres, up to a maximum of 25 people (with some exceptions as posted)
- The 25-person limit applies at entrances and other points of potential congestion on skating trails and ovals (such as the Brewer Skating Oval)
- All participants must maintain a physical distance of two metres, with the exception of members from one household
- Outdoor refrigerated rinks have different capacity limits and each one has its limit posted on-site; the same two-metre distancing requirements apply
- Masking is required for anyone who accesses the outdoor recreational amenity, including spectators, and highly recommended when engaging in physical activity
- Indoor changerooms and indoor clubhouses, excluding bathrooms, are to be closed to the public
There are other operational requirements to avoid crowding, such as creating one-way traffic flows as we’re familiar with in grocery stores. In addition, the new requirements include guidelines for access time limits. Details are available in the Letter of Instruction.
Facility operators must post signage in a highly visible location(s) to communicate the capacity limits and the physical distancing and masking requirements. The City of Ottawa website has posters to download and print.
Impacts to outdoor City facilities
The four City outdoor refrigerated rinks, listed below, each have their own capacity limits posted on-site. Two-metre distancing rules apply. Rink operating hours are on the City website.
- City Hall Rink of Dreams
- Jim Tubman Chevrolet Rink of Dreams
- Lansdowne Park Skating Court
- Ben Franklin Place Skating Rink
Neighbourhood outdoor rinks and ice pads, when weather conditions allow them to open, will have a 25-person capacity limit or less for smaller rinks and will be posted on-site. More details and updates can be found on ottawa.ca/skating.
Non-compliance with these regulations may result in a fine. If you witness an activity that is of concern for public safety, please report it to 3-1-1. More details are available in the Letter of Instruction.
While the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is, on average, greater indoors compared to outdoors, the risk of transmission is elevated outdoors when there is crowding, close contact, prolonged exposure and forceful exhalation, as from sports participants. As reported by the Ontario Science Table last week, without prompt intervention such as these additional public health measures, ICU occupancy could reach unsustainable levels early in January. These new requirements will allow residents to continue their outdoor activities while minimizing the risk of transmitting COVID-19, especially the Omicron variant now circulating.
Visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVID19 to learn more about COVID-19, how you can protect yourself and others and what to do if you suspect you may be infected with the virus.