The City of Ottawa is transitioning to red status. Recreation services will continue at reduced capacities and frontline counter services will remain unchanged.
Ottawa is being moved from its current level in the Framework (Orange-Restrict) to the Red-Control level effective Friday, March 19, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., as a result of worsening trends in key health indicators in the region.
From March 10 to 15, 2021, Ottawa's case rate increased by 24.8 per cent, to 46.8 cases per 100,000 people, and is continuing to climb. In addition, COVID-19 wastewater signal data are at peak levels last seen in October 2020 and in January 2021 when more restrictions were required to bring COVID-19 levels down. Hospitals in our city are currently working at or over capacity to handle the backlog of critical health care services and COVID-19 patients. Some schools have also been forced to close due to the number of variants of concern growing exponentially.
While Ottawa’s limited COVID-19 vaccine supplies have reached some of our community’s most vulnerable in long-term care and retirement home settings, we are still months away from protecting the older adult and other populations at risk of hospitalizations and death. Only about 30% of people over the age of 80 have been protected. Further, people in their 50s make up 23% of COVID-related hospitalizations since December, and this age group is not due for vaccination for a while. Although vaccination efforts are accelerating with every shipment received, we have yet to provide vaccines to every member of our City’s most vulnerable.
Ottawa has never before operated under the Red-Control Zone from the latest Provincial framework; we went from Orange-Restrict into the Grey-Lockdown with the rest of Ontario in December. Ottawa, however, had reached provincial Red Zone thresholds for COVID-19 indicators just prior to moving to Grey and maintained these levels most of January.
Interventions in the Red Zone include limits for all organized public events and social gatherings, where physical distancing can be maintained, with five people indoors and 25 people outdoors. Religious ceremonies and gatherings, including weddings and funeral services, are still allowed but with more restrictions where physical distancing can be maintained to 30 per cent capacity of the room indoors, or 100 people outdoors.
To clarify, this is not a lockdown and most businesses can remain open. Restaurants and gyms can stay open, however, given the nature of their higher risk activities where people are in close contact without a mask, COVID-19 transmission is higher. There is now a capacity limit of 10 patrons seated indoors for restaurants, and for gyms a maximum of 10 people in indoor areas with weights and exercise machines or for classes, with physical distancing maintained at all times. Individual and team sport training is still allowed, however games, scrimmages or other contact are not permitted. And, indoor cinemas are required to close.
Complete details regarding what is and is not permitted for gatherings, restaurants, sports, retail, and personal care services within the Red-Control level can be found on the provincial website at https://www.ontario.ca/page/covid-19-response-framework-keeping-ontario-safe-and-open#red
Ottawa Public Health is continuing to ask residents to limit their contacts and interactions, stay home as much as possible especially when sick, wear a mask, wash their hands often and get tested if they think they may be infected. Doing these things will help decrease levels in the community to avoid another lockdown.