July 17, 2020 newsletter from Rawlson King, City Councillor for Rideau-Rockcliffe.
Mandatory Mask By-Law
To help limit the spread of COVID-19 and prepare for stage three of the provincial reopening plan, City Council approved a temporary by-law to make masks mandatory in indoor public spaces. This includes restaurants, stores, places of worship, sports facilities, community venues, hotel lobbies and the public areas of City and health facilities. Masks continue to be required on transit and transit property. Residents are encouraged to continue practicing physical distancing, wash their hands frequently and stay home when sick.
Masks are not required for young children, people with medical conditions and disabilities that prevent them from safely wearing a mask, and people who can’t put on or remove their mask without assistance. More information is available on ottawapublichealth.ca/masks.
Operators of these spaces are required to inform patrons of the new mask requirement verbally and with proper signs at all public entrances and in common areas of indoor spaces. If a patron refuses to wear a mask and is not exempted, the operator can contact the City for assistance. By-law officers will primarily focus on educating residents about masks. If further action is required, there may be charges with fines.
The by-law will be in place until Council’s next meeting on Wednesday, August 26, when it could be extended if warranted.
Rationale for a Temporary Mandatory Mask By-law
Throughout this pandemic, Ottawa Public Health’s (OPH) objective has been, and continues to be, to protect the health of Ottawa’s population by limiting the potential spread of infection. From the onset, OPH has been monitoring the pandemic closely, both locally and in other jurisdictions, and regularly updating guidance and protocols based on the most up-to-date scientific evidence, the latest data and expert opinion.
As explained in the report to Council, as more businesses and public spaces open and people increase their contacts, the risk of a rapid rise in infections and outbreaks is ever-present. Increasing evidence supports wearing a mask when in enclosed public spaces as an important measure in reducing COVID-19 transmission, while the risk of rising rates of infection continues. The scientific community and public health organizations around the world have concluded that the cumulative weight of evidence supports that non-medical face masks lessen the rates of transmission of COVID-19 from wearers. Most agree that face masks work best by reducing the amount of virus that is projected into the air in respiratory micro-droplets from someone who is infected with the virus. Additionally, other community level measures such as physical distancing and hand hygiene should continue to be employed to decrease transmission of COVID-19.
Because this is a new virus, public health agencies have had to act on emerging evidence that has been developing as the pandemic spreads and as different jurisdictions have tried different interventions. Waiting for evidence, such as randomized clinical trials, to promote mask use is not ethical as mask use is already supported by an increasing body of evidence gained during the pandemic.
This emerging evidence has evolved from physics, engineering, and laboratory studies looking at materials to block respiratory droplets, then augmented by modelling studies of the potential benefits at a population level of even if masks would only be modestly effective, to more recently increasing numbers of studies assessing the impacts in regions and countries that have already implemented mass masking policies during their COVID-19 response. These lines of evidence are, coupled with the evidence about the impact of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, the higher rates of transmission in indoor versus outdoor settings, and risks of resurgence with continuing community transmission as demonstrated in other jurisdictions.
As a result, it is important to take steps now, such as mandating mask use in indoor public spaces, and to provide guidance based on the best available information. This will enable the population to be in the best position possible during the next stage of re-opening businesses and services and of resuming activities while minimizing the risk of a resurgence.
Should you be interested in reviewing some of the emerging evidence on mask use to reduce the spread of COVID-19, please refer to resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the World Health Organization (WHO) Updated Guidance dated July 9, 2020, an excerpt of which is copied below:
Given that infected people without symptoms can transmit the virus, it is also prudent to encourage the use of fabric face masks in public places where there is community transmission. Fabric masks, if made and worn properly, can serve as a barrier to droplets expelled from the wearer into the air and environment and where other prevention measures, such as physical distancing, are not possible.
OPH’s website also includes the following links, which provide additional information in support of mask use in public spaces:
- Public Health Ontario: COVID-19 – What We Know So Far About…Wearing Masks in Public
- Ontario Ministry of Health
- Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)
Support from local businesses
Representatives from Ottawa’s business sector have expressed strong support for this measure and noted that a mandatory mask policy would ensure all businesses are on a level playing field, ensure employees feel protected in the workplace and that the public is confident in visiting retail settings. The Ottawa Board of Trade has issued a public statement supporting this approach.
Communicating on mask use
OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Masks has been updated to provide additional information and guidance on the use of cloth masks and face coverings, including information on who should wear masks and when, how to correctly use them, how to make them, where to acquire them, as well as a host of Frequently Asked Questions about this new directive.
OPH’s website also has a section providing various guidance and resources for businesses and workplaces.
Lastly, we ask that residents support local businesses and their staff as they are required to implement this mandate in their stores and places of business. Many people are working under difficult conditions and it is important that we continue to support one another with patience and understanding.
Ontario enters Stage Three of reopening
The City is reopening all park play structures and equipment today and relaxing facility, sports field and ball diamond rental restrictions for organized sports play and practices, as part of the Province’s stage three reopening framework. The City will continue to examine the path forward this summer for resuming other recreation and cultural programming.
In addition, the City, in consultation with Ottawa Public Health (OPH), is reviewing information from Monday’s provincial announcement and conducting a thorough assessment of operational requirements. Staff redeployments, facility retrofits, demand for services, and financial feasibility are all being examined. Information on the resumption of additional services and facility reopenings will be announced in the coming weeks as they are finalized.
Park play structures and equipment
Effective on Friday, July 17, all playground and exercise equipment at City parks will reopen after being closed for the past four months. All users are reminded to practice physical distancing from people outside your household, avoid touching your face, and wash your hands after using park equipment.
Outdoor and indoor facility rentals
With outdoor gathering restrictions expanded to no more than 100 people, rentals for sports fields, ball diamonds, and parks have been relaxed. Team sports can now resume competitive play provided participants adhere to physical distancing guidelines, avoid prolonged and deliberate physical contact, and follow the guidelines of their governing organizations.
The City has cancelled all existing July indoor rental agreements for events, meetings and community activities. Staff are reaching out to August rental contract holders to advise them that all indoor events for more than 50 people will be cancelled. However, the City will consider rental requests in August for up to 50 people on a case-by-case basis. These rentals would need to adhere to physical distancing guidelines and the City’s mandatory masking by-law.
Recreation and cultural programming and facilities
The City is examining how to best resume additional Recreation and Cultural programming offerings throughout the summer, including access to fitness facilities and programs. The City is working to design programs and retrofit facilities to support physical distancing and to help protect participants and staff.
Indoor pools have already reopened for public and lane swimming by reservation. You can now book using the new online reservation system. Also, weekly modified swimming lessons will begin on Monday, July 20. Online registration is open now.
Municipal childcare centres
Effective July 27, all licensed childcare centres will be able to move from the current cohort size of 10 to a cohort size of 15 children, with a requirement to maintain ratios and group sizes under 15, as set out under the Child Care and Early Years Act. This should bring the childcare sector to approximately 90 per cent of its operating capacity before the COVID-19 outbreak.
Electric Scooter Pilot Program
The City is pleased to announce that three operators – Bird Canada, Lime, and Roll – are bringing up to 600 shared e-scooters to the City’s multi-use pathways, bike lanes and streets. E-scooters are a form of mobility that supports physical distancing and reduces car trips on our streets and crowding on transit.
The electric kick scooter pilot, designed to gauge public interest and evaluate safe and courteous riding and parking, will run until the end of October. The City looks forward to working with Bird Canada, Lime and Roll to provide a safe and enjoyable e-scooter program for residents and visitors.
Companies interested in providing e-scooters were asked to submit applications by Friday, June 26. The City has entered into an agreement with Bird Canada and is finalizing contracts with Lime and Roll. Residents can expect to see Bird Canada’s e-scooters on streets starting Thursday, July 16, with Lime and Roll beginning operations in the following days.
City seeking donations of cloth masks for those in need
The City’s Human Needs Task Force is looking for donations of cloth masks for residents who do not have the means to buy or access one. They will be distributed through community partners to people in need throughout Ottawa.
Thanks to resident and partner donations, the Human Needs Task Force has distributed more than 7,500 cloth masks to the community, but there are still over 15,000 requests for masks.
The City is seeking cloth masks:
- Made with two or three layers of tightly woven but breathable cloth such as cotton, flannel or quilting cotton
- Without any seams over the mouth and nose through which air may leak
- Ideally with horizontal pleats to help fit a variety of faces
How to donate
Backpacks for Overbrook Youth
The Overbrook Community Association’s (OCA) Safety Committee and Prezdential Basketball are launching a campaign to provide 300 Overbrook youth in need with free backpacks, filled with school supplies, a reusable mask and a brand-new tee shirt, just in time for back-to-school. These backpacks will help our youth start the school-year with pride and a sense of community belonging. With evidence that economically and socially diverse neighbourhoods like ours have been most affected by COVID-19 and its fall out, it is more important than ever to help each other and bridge social isolation. Backpacks for Overbrook Youth is the first of several small fundraisers by the OCA'S Safety Committee that will support volunteer-run neighbourhood-building initiatives in our community.
Your financial donation will be used to purchase items that we have been unable to source through RRCRC or retailers. No amount is too small. Any excess funds will be used to support other OCA-Prezdential Basketball activities for Overbrook youth. Please donate today at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/Backpacks-for-Overbrook-Youth
Montreal Road Revitalization Update
Please find below a two-week update (July 13 to July 24) for the Montreal Road Revitalization project. Both this week and next will focus on working at the following locations:
- Montreal Road/Vanier Parkway intersection: Ongoing underground utility work, excavation and concrete work. The work is extensive and involves construction of underground utilities, rebuilding of the road box and reconstruction of the northeast and northwest quadrants of the intersection. Construction will be phased in three stages with work scheduled to be completed in late August 2020. Vanier Parkway will be reduced to two lanes in the northbound and southbound directions. Montreal Road will be reduced to one lane in each direction.
- Montreal Road – North River Road to Marier Avenue: Ongoing work and testing to commission the new watermain. Road crews are simultaneously working on constructing utilities and the road box. Construction of curbs on the North Side of Montreal Road between North River Road and the Vanier Parkway are scheduled to start late next week.
- Montreal Road – Marier Avenue to Cantin Street: The next phase of watermain reconstruction along Montreal Road east of Marier started in late June with temporary water shut offs on Montreal Road and several side streets. The watermain shut offs were required to disconnect the side street watermain from Montreal Road. Additional water disruptions will be required as crews continue to set up temporary water services. A notice of water disruptions will delivered to residents and business owners a minimum of 24 hours in advance. Reconstruction of the Cantin Street and Ducharme intersection has begun and requires closure of the intersection to late November 2020.
North River Road from Montreal Road to cul-de-sac: Ongoing work and testing to commission the new watermain. The next phase of the work will focus on construction of the road box, curbs and sidewalks followed by base course asphalt. Reinstatement, landscaping and final asphalt lift will be completed in spring 2021. In the month of July, crews will start reconstruction of the multi-use path (MUP) on the west side of North River Road which will require closure of the MUP. Cyclist and pedestrians should follow the posted construction signage and will share the east side of the road and sidewalk which remains to be constructed.