Ottawa Public Health announces new capacity and gathering limits due to rapid rise in COVID variant cases


With the Holidays rapidly approaching and the Delta and Omicron COVID variant case numbers soaring to 3,124 in Ontario today, Ottawa Public Health announced new restrictions on gathering and indoor capacities, today. In line with today’s provincial announcement Ottawa Public Health says it is “taking additional and immediate action to limit further spread of the virus to protect residents and reduce the impact on our health care resources and essential services.”

These actions are detailed in a Letter of Instruction from Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa Public Health’s Medical Officer of Health. The instructions are effective Monday, December 20 at 12:01 am.

The enhanced health measures include:

  • Indoor capacity is limited to 50% or less if needed to maintain at least two metres between people
  • Capacity and distancing requirements are applicable regardless of whether the establishment checks proof of vaccination
  • Signage must be posted in a conspicuous location, visible to the public, that states the capacity limits

These measures apply to a broad range of establishments, including those below. A full list is in the Letter of Instruction .

  • Meeting and event spaces, including conference centres or convention centres
  • Restaurants, bars, and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities
  • Personal care services, such as hair salons and barbershops, manicure and pedicure salons, aesthetician services, piercing services, tanning salons, spas and tattoo studios
  • Indoor recreational amenities and indoor facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities, including areas for spectators within those facilities
  • Indoor clubhouses affiliated with outdoor recreational amenities
  • Indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas
  • Museums, galleries and similar attractions
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
  • Indoor fairs, rural exhibitions, festivals and similar events
  • Faith-based organizations and places of worship

“Throughout this entire pandemic, we’ve never faced an enemy like Omicron given how quickly it spreads,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We need to do everything we can to slow its spread as we continue to dramatically ramp up capacity to get as many booster shots into arms as possible. Doing so is the best way to safeguard our hospital and intensive care units.”

Establishments that serve food or beverages must follow these additional regulations:

  • Patrons must be seated at all times when eating or drinking
  • No more than six people seated per table (the provincial recommendation is 10)

In addition to the regulations outlined in the Letter of Instruction, Ottawa Public Health also strongly recommends these measures:

  • Keep indoor gatherings in private settings as small as possible
  • Limit the total number of people you come in close contact with this holiday season
  • Suspend indoor sports and team play temporarily
  • Do not attend large venues, and if you choose to do this, wear a mask at all times
  • Employers should advise their employees to work from home if possible, as was recently recommended by the Province (link is external)
  • If you are a close contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case but have not yet been contacted by public health, please self-isolate and get tested
  • If you are waiting for test results, isolate – do not attend school, sports or any extracurricular activities

OPH says “Ottawa is in a much better position than in March of 2020 when we faced the initial surge of COVID-19, with an unimmunized population and incomplete knowledge of all the measures possible to limit transmission. Immunity is building effectively through our vaccination efforts but right now these enhanced measures are essential to protect the health of all Ottawa residents and our health care system.”

SOURCE City of Ottawa

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