Mayor Jim Watson also wrote to Premier Ford on Friday, lending his support to a revised framework that establishes capacity limits for all businesses based on a percentage of their square footage.
“The current model is quite arbitrary and unjustly punishes restaurants and small businesses,” he wrote, adding: “As Ottawa re-enters the Red zone, we need to enact these changes quickly to give our small businesses a fighting chance.”
Watson also asked the premier to provide “adequate notice” to businesses when the province is about to change the city’s COVID-19 status. This week, he said, local businesses were provided less than 24 hours’ notice that the city was moving into the Red zone, which meant that many had already ordered large food supplies for the weekend.
Ottawa returned to red at 12:01 a.m. Friday, taking the city back to the kind of COVID-19 restrictions in place before Christmas.
The change, which was first raised as a possibility by Etches on Tuesday, came at the request of Ottawa Public Health as key indicators of COVID-19’s growth in the city continued to worsen. Etches said the move back to the more restrictive Red zone was required to prevent the need for a full lockdown.
Ontario cabinet minister Lisa MacLeod challenged Watson’s contention that the province did not give the city enough warning about its move to the Red zone.
“The decision to move the timing for Ottawa’s entry to Red to this Friday was at the direct request of Ottawa Public Health and Dr. Etches,” MacLeod said on Twitter. “She had been raising alarm bells for over two weeks about the spread of COVID.”
Wastewater testing shows COVID-19 levels in the city’s sewage are at levels last seen in October and January, when restrictions were required to control the spread of the virus.
This content was originally published here.