Ottawa Public Health Update - Use of Facesmasks in Public Indoor Spaces

The best thing you can do to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is staying at home if you are sick, washing your hands regularly with soap and water and maintaining a physical distance of two metres or six feet from others.
Effective, July 7, 2020 as of 12:01 am Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health for Ottawa Public Health has instructed every Operator of an Enclosed Public Space within the City of Ottawa to:
Adopt a policy to ensure that no member of the public is permitted to enter or remain in the public areas of the Enclosed Public Space unless he or she is wearing a mask in a manner that covers their nose, mouth and chin.
Those exempt from wearing a mask are:
Children under two years of age, or children under the age of five years either chronologically or developmentally who refuse to wear a mask and cannot be persuaded to do so by their caregiver;
Individuals with medical conditions rendering them unable to safely wear a mask, including breathing difficulties or cognitive difficulties;
Individuals who are unable to apply or remove a mask without assistance, including those who are accommodated under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) or who have protections under the Ontario Human Rights Code, R.S.O. 1990, c.H.19, as amended;
A person who is employed by or is an agent of the Operator of an Enclosed Public Space and:
is in an area of the premises that is not designated for public access, or
is within or behind a physical barrier (e.g., Plexiglass).
Ensure the availability of alcohol-based hand rub at all entrances and exits for the use of all persons entering or exiting the establishment.
Please see the full Instruction Letter to Businesses and Operators for more detailed information.
Since June 15, all OC Transpo customers have been required to wear a mask or face covering while using their services, but some exceptions apply. For more information, visit
How do masks or face covering work?
Wearing a mask or face covering helps to trap COVID-19 and protects people who are around you. Since some people who are infected with COVID-19 may have the virus and not know it, whenever people are going out and might come into close contact with other people they should wear a mask or face covering. When other people wear a mask or face covering they are helping to protect you as well.
Wearing a mask or face covering should not replace other protective measures including physical distancing, hand washing, not touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands and self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms.
What type of mask or face covering should I wear?
There are many types of masks or face covering available including non-medical cloth masks that can be washed and reused, disposable masks that can only be worn once and medical masks such as N95 respirators that should be reserved for front-line health care workers.
Masks or Face Coverings
When buying or making a mask or face covering you should look for masks or face coverings that are made with:
Two or three layers of tightly woven but breathable cloth such as cotton,flannel or quilting cotton
No seams over the mouth and nose through which air may leak
Horizontal pleats to help fit a variety of faces
Disposable non-medical face masks
Disposable non-medical face masks may also be worn. These masks are single use masks and should be put in the garbage after use.
Medical Masks
Like many countries, Canada continues to face a shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment for health care workers. To preserve supplies for healthcare workers medical masks and N95 respirators should be reserved for specific high-risk settings and are not recommended for lower-risk day-to-day activities like when you are in a grocery store or while taking public transportation. N95 respirators with valves, which let air out more easily when you breathe out, should never be used when the intent is to protect others from the virus you may be shedding because they will not trap the virus. For health care workers looking for information on personal protective equipment, please refer to our section on Infection Prevention and Control.

My comments on the recent events of anti-black racism that transpired in the United States

I would like to provide some comments on the tragic events that have transpired in the US.

The killing of George Floyd has left many Ottawa residents and Canadians shaken, angry, hurt and disgusted.

Watching his senseless killing is difficult to bear for many as it was for me.

Watching George Floyd say “I CAN’T BREATHE” and pleading for his mother’s help - as life drained from his body - is more that most of us can tolerate.
Following his senseless death, violence has erupted across the United States.

The tens of thousands of protestors we are seeing in the streets across the US, here in Canada and around the world, are speaking up and standing in solidarity - and we must all stand in solidarity.

And while the death of Mr. Floyd has focused most attention on the United States, we know that as a country, we are not immune to racism, or racist behavior, and we are far from perfect.

Racism is present in our midst.

And we must continue to stamp it out whenever it rears its ugly head, whether it’s in the community, at a police station, at City Hall or anywhere else.

I am grateful that we live in a country where we have the courage to name things for what they are.

And make no mistake, eradicating racism is a duty that belongs to each and every one of us.

It is our individual obligation as residents and citizens of our City, Province and Country to denounce racism each and every time we witness it.

Whether the demonstration of racism appears insignificant or large – we must have the courage to stand up and say that we will not tolerate any form of racism in our city and in our country.

And that includes standing up for our fellow residents of Asian descent who are being subjected to racist and hurtful taunts because of the absurd notion that they somehow bear responsibility for the COVID19 pandemic.

Because racism can only survive and spread if it has oxygen.

The more we refuse to give it oxygen, the less it has room to breathe and expand.

We also have to continue to do everything in our power to build a strong, prosperous and inclusive community.

That includes housing and food security, jobs and economic security.

We must do everything in our power so that all Ottawa residents, whether they have been here for 50 days or 50 years, feel that this City is their home, and they feel welcomed and valued in this house.

And even though the COVID 19 pandemic has made that challenge even more daunting, I believe that we are - as a city, province and country – up to the task.

With that being said, I plan to take part in the “No Peace Until Justice” march at the U.S. Embassy on Sussex with members of the community on Friday, June 5 at 3:00pm.

While I know this is an important event, and I am encouraged by the positivity surrounding this particular gathering, we MUST remember that the COVID-19 pandemic is still present in our community.

If we do not respect the public health guidelines, we may set ourselves back weeks, or even months.

So, for all those who plan to attend: please wear a mask, keep your distance, and wash your hands as soon as you get the chance to do so.
On June 2, I asked members of FEDCO to continue to work together to demonstrate our collective willingness to strengthen the fight against racism in our City.

I was pleased that the motion was carried unanimously at the committee meeting.

This motion allows us to build on that plan that we approved last year.

I am pleased that Councillor Rawlson King has accepted my proposal to take on the role of Council Liaison for Anti-Racism issues and Ethnocultural Relations, subject to Council’s approval at the June 10 meeting.

Members of Council and the public will recall that Councillor King proposed that an Anti-Racism Secretariat be created at the City of Ottawa in 2019, and I was proud to work with him and my Council colleagues to include this measure in the 2020 budget.

Councillor King has been approached by numerous groups and individuals who wish to engage with him on the City’s various anti-racism initiatives.

This motion recognizes Councillor King in a formal leadership role on behalf of Ottawa City Council, similar to that played by Councillors Theresa Kavanagh on gender equity issues, Matt Luloff on Veterans’ issues, and Catherine McKenney on Housing and Homelessness.
Working together, we can build a more inclusive city.

Cities need federal support to partner in economic recovery efforts

We’re almost three months into the global COVID-19 pandemic and the depth of this crisis is greater in its economic scope and impact than most of us can remember.
COVID-19 has created, for cities, the greatest financial challenge we’ve had to face in recent history.
Municipalities across Canada are working around the clock to provide a broad range of essential services – social services for our most vulnerable residents, public transit, fire, paramedic and police services, support for local economic development, clean drinking water, solid waste collection and recycling, and much more.
Revenues are plummeting as costs rise across the board.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and under a state of emergency, the City of Ottawa faces net losses of $66 million by June, $123 million by September, and $186 million come December. This excludes financial impacts to the Ottawa Police Service, Ottawa Public Health, and the Ottawa Public Library.
Both the Government of Canada and provincial governments have boosted spending by hundreds of billions of dollars to see us through this crisis – an effort that is backstopped by a much greater fiscal capacity and the broader revenue base that typically includes sales and personal taxation.
But Canadian municipalities are on much shakier ground – given that our ability to generate revenue is largely based on property taxation. Cities are facing catastrophic financial losses due to deferred property taxes, collapsing transit ridership and revenue, and the rapidly escalating cost of keeping our most vulnerable residents as safe as possible under tremendously challenging circumstances.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, local MP and Minister of Infrastructure Catherine McKenna, and local area MPs have been seen by myself and other Canadian mayors as strong champions of the municipal agenda.
Building on this strong support, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is calling on the Government of Canada to commit to emergency operating funding of $10 billion in a one-time transfer for local governments to use as needed. Given the uneven fiscal capacity of provinces, we are seeking a federal commitment that is NOT contingent on matching provincial funds.
This would allow cities, towns and villages across the country to continue keeping residents safe and supported during this fight against COVID-19. And we need it sooner than later.
Later this morning, along with Councillor Tim Tierney, the City of Ottawa’s representative on the FCM Board of Directors, I will be moving a motion at Council to support the FCM and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) in lobbying the federal and provincial governments for this crucial one-time investment in our city – and in municipalities across the country.
Cities cannot afford to cancel or delay major capital projects or slash spending on essential municipal services while we focus our efforts on supporting the millions of Canadians who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. and unlike the provincial and federal governments, municipalities are not allowed under law to run a deficit.
Since the pandemic was declared, our provincial and federal governments have done a tremendous job of keeping us safe, and we are working closely with them to finally start to prudently reopen the economy.
Wisely, our provincial and federal governments have chosen to not cut services or employment levels, because doing so would undermine our collective efforts to restart our struggling economy and labour markets.
Cities play a vital role in economic growth, and municipalities need support to help drive local economic recovery efforts.
A federal investment in our cities now will ensure that the three levels of government can continue to work in partnership on getting Canada back up and running as quickly as possible.
Without the proposed investment in our cities, we face the daunting prospect of having to cut essential municipal services when our residents need them most, while imposing years of unacceptably high property tax increases while we try to rebuild our economy and regain the millions of jobs lost during COVID-19.
To the people of Ottawa – I offer my sincere thanks on behalf of all members of Council – for continuing to do your part in planking the curve by following public health guidelines. Through our individual behaviour, we are changing the course of this pandemic in our city and setting the stage for a faster recovery.
We will emerge from this crisis stronger than ever, if people and governments continue to work together.

City releases toolkit to help businesses reopen safely

The City of Ottawa has developed a business reopening toolkit, in consultation with Ottawa Public Health, to help businesses answer critical questions before they can reopen safely.

The gradual easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the months to come will bring new challenges for local businesses to navigate, as well as opportunities to innovate. As Ontario begins to reopen the economy, we encourage all Ottawa businesses and organizations to ensure they are prepared to go back to work safely.

Members of the Ottawa business community can access the toolkit online. It provides guidance on preparing your workplace, employees and operations to resume while ensuring physical distancing, and also provides links to official resources such as public health signage, sector-specific guidelines and government financial assistance programs. Information and resources will be updated regularly on the website as guidance from the Government of Ontario and Ottawa Public Health continues to evolve.


“Businesses are the backbone of our community and it is critical that we have the supports in place to help them succeed. Together with Councillors Laura Dudas and Eli El-Chantiry and our Economic Partners Task Force, the City is pleased to help recovery efforts by providing this roadmap for you to reopen in a way that is good for business while ensuring the safety of employees, clients and customers.”

Mayor Jim Watson

“Thank you to Ottawa businesses for all your efforts to date. Getting people back to work safely is a priority. You ARE making a difference in our community. We all need to keep introducing physical distancing into our work processes, so that we can do our best to avoid a resurgence of infection as we move forward with relaxing current restrictions. Stay updated on the latest guidance to help keep yourselves, your employees, and our community healthy and safe.”

Dr. Vera Etches, Medical Officer of Health

For up-to-date information on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, visit or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401). You can also connect with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

COVID-19 in Ottawa: What's New?

Here’s the City of Ottawa’s weekly roundup of information in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also follow daily City updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:

• Missed my Townhall with Dr. Vera Etches and senior City staff? No problem: the hour-long Q&A with residents about the COVID-19 pandemic can be found on the City’s YouTube channel.
The City's roadmap for recovery was presented to City Council on Wednesday
• Don’t forget, you can watch live City Council or Committee meetings on the Ottawa City Council YouTube Channel. City Council meetings re also broadcast live on RogersTV Cable 22 and live streamed on the RogersTV website.


The latest from Ottawa Public Health:

• Have questions about wearing non-medical masks? Everything you need to know here.
• COVID-19 testing has expanded. When should you pay a visit to a COVID-19 Care Clinic?


COVID-19 Update from the City of Ottawa

The City of Ottawa is now posting weekly roundups with information regarding the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also keep up with City updates daily on COVID-19 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  • The Jim Durrell Arena has been converted to a temporary shelter for people in the shelter system to help mitigate the spread of the virus within the shelter environment. The Complex will open on Saturday, May 2.

City to invest $11.4 million in COVID-19-related social services

Today, I was joined by Councillor Jenna Sudds, the Chair of the City’s Community and Protective Services Committee, to announce how the City will disburse $11.4 million in federal and provincial funding for homelessness initiatives and for community agencies that help at-risk residents respond to COVID-19.

The City received $6.6 million from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. This represents about half of the $13.3 million the Province has committed to the City of Ottawa this year from the Community Homelessness Prevention Initiative’s Social Services Relief Fund. The City also received $4.8 million in federal Reaching Home funding under the government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, bringing the total of immediate funding available to $11.4 million.

The City will use $8.4 million to strengthen its response to homelessness initiatives. Funds will be distributed immediately to support emergency shelters; isolation centres and hotel rooms for self-isolation; and physical distancing centres and hotels for individuals and families experiencing homelessness. It will also fund housing and homelessness outreach, basic needs and day programs.

The remaining $3 million will go to community agencies supporting at-risk residents in response to the pandemic.

This funding is in addition to $1.75 million the City already distributed to housing and homelessness partners for priority needs like food supplies and vouchers, added staffing and personal protective equipment.

How to apply
Funding will be available for non-profit organizations in two categories:
• Homelessness service providers and Residential Services Homes that serve individuals and families at risk of or experiencing homelessness
• Agencies that provide essential services and supports to other at-risk residents and communities during the pandemic

Essential services are defined as food security, coordination of services to meet extraordinary needs, and direct support to isolated seniors, at-risk communities and equity-seeking communities – most notably, Indigenous people, low-income households, seniors, women (including those fleeing violence), youth, people living with disabilities, immigrants and newcomers, and rural residents.

Agencies can find application packages at

The application process opens on Monday, April 20. The City will accept applications by email until end of day on Monday April 27, with the aim to disburse funding to our partners in early May. Partners will be notified about funding decisions by Thursday, May 7.

The City anticipates the next $3.3-million installment of the $13.3 million Social Service Relief Fund in July and will continue to assess the evolving needs of the community.

Announcement: Service and Workforce Adjustments due to COVID-19

Ottawa – In order to help flatten the curve and protect the public from the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Ottawa has closed public facilities and has suspended non-essential services, activities and programs.

Today, in consultation with Ottawa Public Health, the City of Ottawa is extending the closure of City facilities, services and large public gatherings until June 30, 2020, as part of a dedicated effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The City of Ottawa remains in a State of Emergency and the City’s Emergency Operations Centre will continue to respond and coordinate all activities associated with keeping Ottawa safe.
Due to the closure of City facilities and cancellation of programming, many part-time employees are without work. As a result, the City of Ottawa has worked in partnership with CUPE 503 to place approximately 4,000 part-time employees from the Recreation, Cultural and Facility Services Department (RCFS) and approximately 280 part-time employees from the Ottawa Public Library (OPL) on an unpaid, job-protected legislated leave of absence, or declared emergency leave, under the Employment Standards Act. During the period that City facilities are closed, there is insufficient work for these employees and this negotiated agreement ensures that staff are not laid-off.
These are not permanent reductions and those impacted will retain their status as City of Ottawa employees. But by taking this step, the City is allowing part-time employees to apply for federal supports. This decision was necessary to ensure the financial well-being of our staff members.
The City of Ottawa will also defer the 2020 summer student employment program until May and will review the viability of the program on a regular basis as the situation evolves.
During this unprecedented time, the City of Ottawa will continue to provide municipal services that residents rely on. City staff are working on a plan to ensure the City’s finances remain stable, municipal services continue and that the full complement of City resources is deployed to support these efforts. Staff will provide an update on the coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic at the City Council meeting on April 8.
By following the direction of Ottawa Public Health and limiting COVID-19 exposure to essential and critical workers, we can all do our part to ensure that emergency services, garbage collection, water services, public transportation, roads services and support for our most vulnerable can continue.

"We are constantly reviewing the situation, in consultation with the Medical Officer of Health, to determine what is best for the health of our residents. This is not easy for anyone. But to our affected employees, I want to say thank you for your hard work and dedicated service to our community and our residents. I can assure you that this is only a temporary measure, and we look forward to bringing you back to offer the programming that benefits tens of thousands of families across the city.”
Jim Watson, Mayor, City of Ottawa

“As we all respond to the impacts of COVID-19, the City of Ottawa is taking significant steps as an organization. While managing the day-to-day operations, staff are also looking at what a return to our new normal might look like. We anticipate that it may take many months to return the City to full service. I can assure you that we all look forward to the day when we can re-open our facilities, restore our impacted services, and bring our valued employees back to work.”
Steve Kanellakos, City Manager, City of Ottawa

For more information on City programs and services, visit or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-9656). You can also connect with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

COVID-19 Update

With more cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ottawa, including confirmation of community spread, we are urging that everyone either practice physical (social) distancing or self-isolate if applicable. Each of our efforts are needed as a community.

The actions you take will affect not only you, but your loved ones and the most vulnerable people in our community. By acting now, you may be saving lives – the life of a family member, a neighbour, a friend, or a coworker.

For individuals with respiratory symptoms (such as fever or cough):
• You must self-isolate for 14 days from when your symptoms started, or until 24 hours after symptoms have FULLY resolved, whichever is longer
• You must not leave your home if you have respiratory symptoms.
• If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, please visit your nearest emergency department.
• If you think you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, fill out the self-assessment tool at to help determine how to seek further care.
For individuals who are returning from travel, you must self-isolate for 14 days:
• The Federal Quarantine Act requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. Leaving your property to go for a walk is not permitted under the Quarantine Order, issued on March 25, 2020.
• Do not go to community settings, including the grocery store. If you need groceries or other essential items, have a family member, friend or neighbour do this for you and leave items at the door.
• If you have respiratory symptoms, follow guidance in the section above.

For ALL Ottawa residents (except those listed above):
• Practice physical (social) distancing – Avoid all non-essential trips in the community
• Household contacts (people you live with) do not need to distance from each other unless they are sick, or have travelled within the past 14 days
• Cancel ALL group gatherings.
• Connect via phone, video chat, or social media instead of in-person
• Talk to your employer about working from home (if possible).
• Avoid visiting elderly friends or relatives unless the visit is essential.
• Keep windows down for essential community trips via taxi or rideshares.
• You can go outside (for example - to take a walk or kick a ball with members of your household, who are already close contacts). While outside, avoid crowds and maintain a distance of two metres (six feet) from those around you. Make an effort to step-aside, or pass others quickly and courteously on sidewalks. Passing someone on the sidewalk is not considered close contact or a significant risk for exposure to COVID-19.

Human Needs Taskforce
Our community partners are working together through the City’s Human Needs Task Force for those requiring assistance. The task force is receiving, assessing and triaging all social and human needs inquiries, while mobilizing and supporting community organizations to address urgent community needs. The Human Needs Task Force aligns internal city resources, external partners, existing funding and new funding to community need.

Outreach to Isolated Seniors
The Good Companions’ Seniors Centre Without Walls has expanded its services with a focus on outreach to vulnerable and isolated seniors and other populations. Emotional and practical support is provided via telephone. In addition, they have trained 20 agencies (32 staff) to do similar outreach calls through various programs.
Rural Ottawa Support Services is working with Good Companions to provide similar telephone outreach and practical supports to isolated seniors through their A Friendly Voice program, which does wellness calls connecting seniors to local services and programs.
Ottawa Community Housing has facilitated wellness check phone calls to approximately 2,700 residents, focusing on people identified on the Fire Evacuation List.

Food Security
Ottawa Food Bank is supporting the emergency food centres and are coordinating with other task force members to sort and deliver food where needed. Demand has increased by 30 per cent across community food banks. They are working with the Salvation Army to support distribution of food hampers offered by local restauranteurs. The City is providing facility space for safe storage of food hampers.
Meals on Wheels has been increasing offers of frozen food for seniors in the Ottawa area and connecting with Ottawa Food Bank to provide hamper supplies and deliveries. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, they are delivering 100 fresh and 700 frozen meals daily. These services have ensured a supply of full dinners for those individuals in need.

Urgent Transportation
Working with other non-profit organizations, the Good Companions and Champlain Community Support Network are coordinating urgent transportation to medical appointments, assessment centres, and food centres/grocery stores for those with financial constraints, transportation difficulties, and/or health and mobility issues.
Services can be accessed by contacting Good Companions website or by telephone at 613-236-0428.

Volunteer Coordination
The City and United Way of Eastern Ontario are developing a plan to support volunteer coordination during the COVID-19 pandemic. Volunteer Ottawa has established a pool of pre-screened volunteers and will continue to accept new applicants.

Buy Local
In partnership with its Economic Partners Taskforce, the City of Ottawa today launched the first phase of an online promotional campaign to help local businesses during these challenging times.

The campaign encourages residents to support their favourite small businesses by taking immediate and concrete steps now:
• Buy from local businesses online.
• Purchase gift cards from local businesses to use later.
• Order delivery or takeout from area restaurants.
• Send local businesses messages of support on social media.

These actions will help local shops, restaurants and services by providing them with critical income during this challenging period.

The campaign includes targeted ads that will reach residents on several online platforms over the coming weeks and direct them to There, residents will find links to sites listing businesses serving customers virtually or providing takeout and meal delivery.

The City is also launching a web page on to provide businesses with access to essential information and support programs. The page will have links to provincial and federal assistance programs, as well as details on measures offered by the City to help businesses in the coming weeks and months. This includes the property tax deferral and other relief measures that Council approved at its meeting on March 25.

Ottawa is a caring community and clearly recognizes the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on our small businesses, their owners and employees. These shops, restaurants and services are the foundation of our local economy. Any support residents can provide during these challenging times will help businesses continue to operate online and keep staff employed.

Grace period for interim property tax payment
With the interim property taxes mailed out in mid-February, the City extended a grace period to Wednesday, April 15, with no late payment applied between the original March 19 deadline and the new date for those unable to make payment by the due date. The interim property tax bill covers 50 per cent of the entire property tax bill.

New 2020 Interim Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program
The City has also established a 2020 Interim Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program for qualifying residents, as well as businesses that have an assessed property value of up to $7.5 million – which captures 91 per cent of all commercial properties in Ottawa. The program extends both the interim property tax deadline (March 19) and the final property tax deadline (June 18) to Friday, October 30, 2020.

To qualify, your account would need to have been paid up to date before the interim tax installment. The application deadline is July 31, 2020.The application form, as well as other qualifying criteria and program information, is available on

View, Print and Payment options
Ottawa residents can sign up for paperless billing for property tax and water bills. This is a secure website where you can manage, view, print and pay your bills online. It is free to set up, easy to use and provides residents access to their account information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Visit for more information.

Residents have several payment options for property tax and water bills that can be done from the comfort and safety of their own homes.
• My Service Ottawa portal
• Telephone and online banking through their financial institution
• Debit or credit payment online at
• Pre-authorized debit
• Mail

Remember to check in with others by phone or other technology. Be courteous. Support your neighbours if you can. Check in with yourself. It’s ok not to be ok. Reach out to the Distress Centre of Ottawa to connect with someone at 613-238-3311 if you need help or are having trouble coping.

This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone. I’d like to thank you for your cooperation with physical (social) distancing from others and thank people who are helping each other.
Supporting our neighbours is essential for us to make it through this pandemic.
For more information on COVID-19, please visit:
Information on financial and social supports is available on