What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, March 20

·8 min read
A person rides a motorcycle in downtown Ottawa on March 16. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)
A person rides a motorcycle in downtown Ottawa on March 16. (Brian Morris/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Officials worry for residents' mental health as stricter restrictions loom in eastern Ontario.

  • Starting today, restaurant and bar capacity rules in red and orange zones change.

  • Ottawa reported 107 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the highest one-day total in more than seven weeks.

What's the latest?

Ottawa health officials reported 107 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, the highest one-day total in nearly two months.

No new deaths were recorded, however.

According to the city, some Ottawa residents who have vaccination appointments booked next week through the province's system will have those dates re-booked.

Scheduling issues within the provincial system led to double bookings on March 23, 24 and 25. Those not contacted by the province should show up for their appointments as planned.

Authorities in eastern Ontario say they're not surprised about their regions changing colours on the pandemic scale, but there are concerns about what those new restrictions mean for residents' mental health.

The Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit moves from yellow to red on Monday. Kingston, Frontenac and Lennox and Addington Public Health goes from green to yellow.

Starting today, regions in red and orange zones have new capacity rules for restaurants and bars — allowing them to have about 50 per cent of the indoor dining area accessible to the public, with a cap of 50 people inside for red zones and 100 people in orange.

How many cases are there?

As of Saturday, 16,021 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. There are currently 729 known active cases, 14,841 resolved cases and 451 deaths.

Public health officials have reported more than 28,600 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 26,500 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 134 people have died of COVID-19 and 170 people have died in western Quebec.

Akwesasne has had more than 250 residents test positive on the Canadian side of the border, eight of them active cases, and seven deaths. It's had more than 500 cases combined with its southern section.

Kitigan Zibi has had 22 confirmed cases and Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had eight, with one death.

CBC Ottawa is profiling those who've died of COVID-19. If you'd like to share your loved one's story, please get in touch.

What can I do?

The province's science advisors are among the experts saying Ontario is in its 3rd wave of the pandemic.

Eastern Ontario now ranges from red to green under the province's colour-coded pandemic scale.

Restaurants, gyms, personal care services and non-essential businesses are open across the region.

Outside red zones, social gatherings can have up to 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors. Organized events can be larger.

With Ottawa in the red zone, all gatherings are capped at five people inside and 25 outside.

Restaurants in the red zone of the province's colour-coded guidelines have had their indoor dining capacity increased to 50 per cent, up to a maximum of 50 people.

Theatres are closed and team sports games or scrimmages are not allowed.

Going red means only leaving home for essential reasons and not having inside visitors.

Ottawa Public Health said Thursday its spread of COVID-19 is getting out of control.

Local health units can also set their own rules, like what Kingston's is doing around gatherings and Lanark County's is doing for sports.

Western Quebec's gyms and restaurants can open under its orange zone rules, as can non-essential businesses.

Outdoor gatherings of up to eight people are allowed. The region's curfew hours are 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Grenville-sur-la-Rouge and some of the surrounding area remains in red.

Next week local high schoolers can return to in-class learning full time and sports rules will be relaxed.

People in all these areas are asked to only have close contact with people they live with, be masked and distanced for all other in-person contact and only travel for essential reasons, especially between differently coloured zones.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets when an infected person speaks, coughs, sneezes, or breathes onto someone or something. These droplets can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. New coronavirus variants can be more contagious and are spreading quickly in some places.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed — keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don't live with, even with a mask on.

Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec.

OPH says residents should wear masks outside their homes whenever possible.

A woman walks her dog in an off-leash part of a snowy park in Gatineau, Que., in March.
A woman walks her dog in an off-leash part of a snowy park in Gatineau, Que., in March.(Jonathan Dupaul/CBC)

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions and/or weakened immune systems stay home as much as possible and get help with errands.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who've been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length varies in Quebec and Ontario.

People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine and have to pay for their stay in a quarantine hotel if entering by air.


Four COVID-19 vaccines have been approved in Canada.

Canada's task force said first doses offer such strong protection that people can wait up to four months to get a second, meaning jurisdictions can spread first doses widely.

About 195,000 doses have been given out in the wider region since mid-December, including more than 88,000 doses in Ottawa and about 24,000 in western Quebec.

Ontario's first doses generally went to care home residents and health-care workers.

The provincewide campaign has expanded further into Phase 1 to include more priority groups such as all people over age 80. On Monday, it's anyone above 75. People can book appointments online or over the phone.

Local health units have some flexibility in the larger framework, so check their websites — as they're asking people to keep their phone lines clear — for details.

People who are above age 60 to 64 or will be turning 60 or 65 this year in the Kingston area can contact one of nearly 50 pharmacies for a vaccine appointment as part of a pilot project. It's anyone above 60 as of Monday.

Phase 2 should include people with underlying health conditions in April, then people who can't work from home and down in age to 60 in June. Phase 3 in July will have vaccines for everybody over age 16.

Quebec also started by vaccinating people in care homes and health-care workers.

The vaccination plan has moved to people age 65 and older at six western Quebec clinics, then essential workers and finally the general public.

Officials expect everyone over the age of 65 to be vaccinated by mid-April and everyone who wants a shot to be able to get one by by Fête nationale June 24.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone. Pharmacists there will also be giving shots.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Children tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.

In eastern Ontario:

Anyone seeking a test should book an appointment.

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you have symptoms, if you've been told to by your health unit or the province, or if you fit certain other criteria.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one.

Check with your area's health unit for clinic locations and hours. Some are offering pop-up or mobile clinics.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

Outaouais residents can make an appointment in Gatineau at 135 blvd. Saint-Raymond or 617 ave. Buckingham. They can check the wait time for the Saint-Raymond site.

There are recurring clinics by appointment in communities such as Maniwaki and Petite-Nation.

Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

Akwesasne has a COVID-19 test site by appointment only and a curfew of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Anyone returning to the community on the Canadian side of the international border who's been farther than 160 kilometres away — or visited Montreal — for non-essential reasons is asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

People in Pikwakanagan can book a COVID-19 test by calling 613-625-1175. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and in Kitigan Zibi, 819-449-5593.

Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

For more information