Ottawa has new rules for indoor dining as Ontario moves eight regions to new COVID-19 restriction levels

Ottawa restaurants must limit capacity to 10 people indoors in Red-control Zone

On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is moving eight public health regions to new levels in the COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open. As announced on March 18, 2021 Ottawa is one of the regions that will be moving from Orange-Restrict to Red-Control Level of COVID-19 Response Framework as of 12:01 AM on March 20.

This will be the first time Ottawa has been in the Red-Control zone. Going from Orange to Red means Ottawans need to cap all gatherings, whether organized or private, at five people inside and 25 outside with the exception is religious services, which can be larger.

However, the province has now loosened the restrictions on dining in Grey, Red and Orange regions. The government says it is “cautiously adjusting” dining capacity limits at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, for regions in the Grey-Lockdown, Red-Control and Orange-Restrict levels of the Framework, effective Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

For regions in the Orange-Restrict and Red-Control levels (including Ottawa), capacity limits for indoor dining will be adjusted and based on a standard, scalable calculation that will allow for up to approximately 50 per cent of the indoor dining area to be accessible to the public, subject to physical distancing rules. The total occupancy cannot exceed 50 patrons in Red-Control and 100 patrons in Orange-Restrict.

In addition, while indoor dining continues to be prohibited for areas in the Grey-Lockdown level of the Framework, outdoor dining would be permitted for regions in Grey-Lockdown, subject to physical distancing rules and a number of other public health and workplace safety measures.

“With the significant and increasing risk of COVID-19 variants, the next few weeks will be critical in our fight against COVID-19,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of our frontline health care workers we continue to accelerate our vaccine rollout, but until all Ontarians can receive the vaccine we must not let our guard down and continue following public health advice. This remains our best defense.”

Based on the latest data, the following eight public health regions will be moving from their current level in the Framework to the following levels effective Monday, March 22, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.:


  • Brant County Health Unit;
  • Chatham-Kent Public Health; and
  • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit.
  • Ottawa Public Health


  • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.


  • Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox & Addington Public Health;
  • North Bay Parry Sound District;
  • Porcupine Health Unit; and
  • Timiskaming Health Unit.

In consultation with the local medical officers of health and based on current trends, which has seen increasing case rates and per cent test positivity rates in the last week, the Peel and Toronto Public Health regions will remain in the Grey-Lockdown level at this time. The government will continue to work with the local medical officers of health to determine what targeted adjustments to public health measures may be made to allow for some outdoor activities where the risk of transmission is minimized.   

Please view the Ontario regulations for full details.

To ensure the continued safety of patrons and workers, public health and safety measures in indoor and outdoor settings would be strengthened in the Orange-Restrict, Red-Control and Grey-Lockdown levels in the Framework. These measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Limiting tables for indoor dining to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers; 
  • Limiting tables for outdoor dining in Grey-Lockdown to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers; and 
  • A sign posted by the establishment in a location visible to the public that states the maximum capacity (number of patrons) they are permitted to operate under.

“While some regions are proceeding to levels with less restrictive measures and adjustments are being made to dining capacity, everyone must continue to adhere to all public health and workplace safety measures,” said Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health. “We have entered the third wave of the pandemic and the rates of variants of concern continue to rise so it is important that people remain cautious and vigilant in order to minimize the transmission of COVID-19 and protect themselves and their communities.”  

Quick Facts

  • Find out what level and which public health and workplace safety measures are in place for your area.
  • From March 10 to 15, 2021, Peel and Toronto Public Health’s case rates increased by 4.5 per cent, to 86.5 cases per 100,000 people in Toronto, and by 8.6 per cent, to 103.6 cases per 100,000 people in Peel, both well above the provincial average.
  • Please visit for the full list of public health region classifications.
  • To help stop the spread of COVID-19 and safeguard health system capacity, everyone is strongly urged to continue staying at home and limit trips outside their household and to other regions for essential purposes only, and not to gather with individuals outside of their household. In addition, people are required to wear a face covering in certain circumstances, both indoors and outdoors, including when attending a business or organization that is open to the public, with limited exceptions.
  • Local medical officers of health continue to have the ability to issue Section 22 orders under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, and municipalities may enact by-laws, to target specific transmission risks in the community.
  • Emergency orders O. Reg. 55/21 (Compliance Orders for Retirement Homes), and O. Reg. 8/21 (Enforcement of COVID-19 Measures) currently in force, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, have been extended until April 5, 2021, as the province continues to deal with the impacts of COVID-19. In addition, orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 have been extended until April 20, 2021.
  • Healthy people are essential for a healthy economy. On March 24, 2021, the government will release the 2021 Ontario Budget. It will focus on protecting people’s health, with a plan to defeat COVID-19, and provide support for people and jobs.

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