What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Saturday, May 22

·8 min read
People bird watching at Parc Moussette in Gatineau, Que., during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jonathan Dupaul/CBC - image credit)
People bird watching at Parc Moussette in Gatineau, Que., during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jonathan Dupaul/CBC - image credit)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa reported 78 new COVID-19 cases and two more deaths Saturday.

  • Select outdoor activities like golf, tennis and splash pads reopen today.

  • Children 12 and older can book their vaccines starting tomorrow.

  • More vaccine appointments will be made available Sunday, the city says.

What's the latest?

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reported 78 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths on Saturday.

Another 22 new cases were logged in western Quebec, as well as another two deaths.

Starting today, the province is reopening a list of outdoor facilities like golf courses, tennis courts, archery ranges and splash pads. Outdoor gatherings of up to five people will be allowed.

Tomorrow at 8 a.m., youths aged 12 and over in Ontario are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. More appointments will open up in Ottawa at that time, and the city is also expanding its community clinic operations to include the St-Laurent Complex on Coté Street.

If you got the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine for your first shot and are wondering when you'll be able to get a second, details are starting to emerge about Ontario's plan.

A family in Kanata is keeping their Christmas tree up all year to help ward off the pandemic blues. They've decorated three birthday trees, a Valentine's Day tree, an Easter tree, and this weekend they've decked the branches for the Victoria Day long weekend.

WATCH | Christmas tree has become an 'every occasion' tree for this family:

How many cases are there?

The region is coming down from a record-breaking peak of the pandemic's third wave, one that has included more dangerous coronavirus variants. The rate of spread is still high.

As of Saturday, 26,503, Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 935 known active cases, 25,021 resolved cases and 547 deaths.

Public health officials have reported more than 48,200 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 45,800 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 185 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 211.

Akwesasne has had 690 residents test positive, four of them active, and 10 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi has had 34 cases. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 11, with one death. Pikwakanagan hasn't had any.

The transfer of COVID-19 patients from other regions to Ottawa hospitals continues. As of the most recent update Friday, there were 20 COVID-19 patients from other communities in Ottawa ICUs.

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?

Eastern Ontario:

Ontario is under a stay-at-home order until at least June 2. Its reopening plan leans on rates of spread and vaccination; the target for it to begin is mid-June.

For now, people should only leave home for essential reasons like getting groceries, seeking health care and exercising in their immediate area.

The vast majority of gatherings are prohibited. Exceptions include small activities with households and small religious services.

As of Saturday, many closed recreation venues can reopen and the outdoor gathering limit rises to five people, including from different households.

However, Ottawa has had to reverse its plan to reopen splash pads.

Ontario has moved to online learning. Daycares remain open and the plan is to open summer camps.

Most non-essential businesses can only offer curbside pickup. Access to malls is restricted and big-box stores can only sell essential items.

Gyms and personal care services are closed, while restaurants are only available for takeout and delivery.

Police checkpoints between Ontario and Quebec are not running 24/7. Officers in Ontario have the power to stop and question people if they believe they've gathered illegally.

Local health units and communities can also set their own rules, as Ottawa is doing around playgrounds and the Belleville area is doing for the agriculture industry.

Western Quebec

Western Quebec is under red zone rules. It has a plan to gradually reopen, starting with the curfew lifting and outdoor gatherings and dining returning on May 28.

For now, high schools, gyms, theatres, personal care services and non-essential businesses can open with restrictions.

The curfew is in place from 9:30 p.m. until 5 a.m.

Tulips bloom at the National War Memorial at the northern end of Elgin Street in Ottawa in mid-May 2021.
Tulips bloom at the National War Memorial at the northern end of Elgin Street in Ottawa in mid-May 2021.(David Richard/Radio-Canada)

Private gatherings remain banned, except for a person who lives alone seeing one other household.

Small religious services are allowed and people can go to theatres. Older secondary school students will be going to classrooms every second day. Distanced outdoor exercise is allowed in groups up to eight people.

People can't travel to yellow or green zones or risk a fine.

Distancing and isolating

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. Coronavirus variants of concern are more contagious and are now established.

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.

Children play in the water at Parc Moussette in Gatineau, Que., during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Children play in the water at Parc Moussette in Gatineau, Que., during the COVID-19 pandemic.(Jonathan Dupaul/CBC)

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.

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.

Canada has extended its ban on direct flights from India and Pakistan until June 21

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.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands.


Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada.

Ontario and Quebec have both stopped giving first doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, but plan to give second doses.

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

About 1,100,000 doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including more than 500,000 doses to Ottawa residents and about 225,000 in western Quebec.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating people 18 and older and 17-year-olds turning 18 in 2021. People can look for provincial appointments opening up online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900.

Pharmacies continue to offer vaccines through their own booking systems as supply allows.

The very first people who got an AstraZeneca vaccine can book a second dose starting Monday. The province's goal is a second AstraZeneca dose 12 weeks after the first, with more details to come on other recipients.

Ontario plans to allow everyone over age 12 to make an appointment starting the week of May 31. Individual health units and First Nations can choose to vaccinate that age group now at pop-up clinics.

Local health units have flexibility in the larger framework, including around booking, so check their websites for details. Some offer standby lists for first doses.

Western Quebec

Quebec is vaccinating everyone age 18 and older. Teens age 16 and 17 are eligible if they have certain jobs or a chronic illness or disability.

A walk-in clinic continues in Gatineau's Palais des Congrès today.

The province plans to reach children as young as 12 starting Tuesday.

It expects to have given a first dose to 75 per cent of adults by June 15 and is looking at 75 per cent of people age 12 and up getting their second dose by the end of August.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone.

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 make an appointment. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you fit certain criteria, such as having symptoms, exposure or a certain job.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province's targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Shoppers Drug Mart stores can now offer rapid tests.

Travellers who need a test have very few local options to pay for one.

In western Quebec:

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

People can make an appointment and check wait times online.

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

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in Ontario.

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.

Tyendinaga's council is asking people not to travel there to camp or fish.

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

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting