City's medical officer of health not ruling out local order targeting patios

·2 min read
Outdoor patio diners take advantage of a warm, sunny day in Ottawa in March. Ottawa's medical officer of health has asked the province to clarify whether indoor dining rules allowing only members of the same household to sit together also apply to patios. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)
Outdoor patio diners take advantage of a warm, sunny day in Ottawa in March. Ottawa's medical officer of health has asked the province to clarify whether indoor dining rules allowing only members of the same household to sit together also apply to patios. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)

The City of Ottawa's medical officer of health isn't ruling out a local order that would prohibit patio dining with people who aren't from the same household.

Under Ontario's colour-coded provincial framework, people are only allowed to dine indoors with people in their same household — unless living alone or have a caregiver — in all zones except green.

It doesn't specify if those same rules apply to outdoor dining.

"We know that the more opportunity there is for people from different households to be together, where there's close contact and no mask wearing, the more opportunity for transmission of COVID, and we're just not there yet," said Dr. Vera Etches at a news conference Wednesday.

Etches said Ottawa Public Health (OPH) has written to the province's chief medical officer of health, Dr. David Williams, asking for clarification about the outdoor rules.

"If we can accomplish that [change] for the whole province, that's the best way to protect people," she said. "But yes, if that isn't the direction things are going in then we would be looking at local solutions."

That solution could come by way of a local health order that would apply within Ottawa, similar to what's been implemented by the local medical officer of health in the Leeds, Grenville, and Lanark District Health Unit with targeted measures.

"The day will come when we can increase the number of opportunities where we're in close contact with people outside our household," said Etches. "We miss that, absolutely. It's just not the time. This is not the time to allow COVID to go to higher and higher levels in our community."

She did encourage spending time outside with people from the same household.

"Do enjoy the outdoors as much as you can."