Mayor Jim Watson is reminding all Ottawa residents to follow the COVID-19 guidelines as more businesses reopen and social circles expand during the pandemic.
Ottawa and eastern Ontario entered Stage 2 of the COVID-19 reopening plan on Friday, allowing malls, restaurant and bar patios, barber shops and salons to reopen. Ontario is also allowing gatherings of up to 10 people, including new social bubbles.
“My hope is that everyone is doing their very best to respect the physical distancing rules and wearing masks,” said Watson during an interview with CTV News at Six anchor Christina Succi.
“We don’t want to go back to the pre-Friday, when people couldn’t have a drink or a meal on a patio, or couldn’t get their haircut. So far, it seems to be working.”
The mayor says he will receive an update from Ottawa Public Health on Monday about the first weekend of the relaxed restrictions across the capital.
Ottawa Public Health inspectors will be monitoring restaurant and bar patios to make sure physical distancing guidelines are being followed.
“The first stage is education. If Public Health inspectors see that the tables are too close together for instance on a patio, they’ll go talk to the owner,” said Watson, noting most owners and operators want to follow the rules following a three-month shutdown during the pandemic.
“My sense is that there is a great sense of relief that the province put us into Phase 2.”
As more businesses reopen during Stage 2 of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mayor is urging residents to “shop local” and support local business owners.
“Maybe now is the time to spend more on your small retail operations on main streets throughout the city as opposed to ordering through one of the big American online companies,” said Watson, noting Ottawa’s largest employment sector, the federal civil service, was not impacted by layoffs during the pandemic.
“Support the local businesses because they’re the ones that end up hiring your kids and sponsoring your baseball teams for little leagues. We got to support these businesses whether they’re in a shopping mall in the east-end or west-end, or downtown on Bank or Elgin Street.”
COVID wise during the pandemic
Ottawa’s medical officer of health is urging everyone to be “COVID wise” to help limit the spread of COVID-19 in Ottawa.
As Ottawa entered Stage 2, Dr. Vera Etches said in a statement that “the reality is that this isn’t the end. We must all continue cautiously to prevent infections and keep the virus at a manageable level in our community.”
“Testing and follow-up is not enough to control the virus; we must prevent transmission in the first place.”
Dr. Etches says this is what it means to be “COVID wise”
W – Wear a cloth mask when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres
I – Isolate yourself from others when you are sick (and get tested promptly if you have COVID-like symptoms)
S – Stay two metres apart from those outside your household
E – Exercise proper hand hygiene; was your hands regularly or use sanitizer especially before touching your face