Ottawa's COVID-19 case count climbs as province rolls back rules for restaurants, gyms, theatres
City among 3 Ontario regions returning to modified Stage 2 closures
Ottawa has added another 126 cases of COVID-19 to its ever-growing tally as the city's gyms, movie theatres and dine-in restaurants are learning they'll have to close once again.
In its daily update Friday, Ottawa Public Health reported 130 more cases are considered resolved, leaving the number of active cases in the city at 875. With no new deaths reported, the city's death toll remains at 296. So far, 5,279 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Ottawa.
Because there's currently a backlog of more than 2,500 people awaiting test results, many of the new cases reported Friday are likely days old. Currently, just nine per cent of those tested receive their results within 48 hours.
The new cases are more or less evenly split between people under and over the age of 40.
Meanwhile, Ontario's COVID-19 hot spots, including Ottawa, are being placed under a modified version of the previous Stage 2 restrictions as of midnight tonight for at least 28 days.
That means no more dine-in service at restaurants, gyms and movie theatres will have to close their doors, and more. Schools will remain open.
"Today's decision by the province is likely one of the most difficult decisions the premier and his cabinet have ever had to make," said Mayor Jim Watson during a virtual news conference Friday afternoon.
"There's no doubt this will have a significant negative impact on our local economy, particularly for small businesses and thousands of people they employ."
In a news release Friday night, the City of Ottawa said it will close as of midnight Saturday: weight and cardio rooms; fitness classes (including aquafitness and dance); indoor team sports like hockey, volleyball, basketball and indoor soccer; interactive exhibits at museums, galleries and cultural facilities; and food vending services at city buildings.
The city says the restrictions will not affect before- and after-school programs, public skating, swimming and lessons.
The city also announced OC Transpo's special constables will start fining people for not wearing masks on buses, trains and at stations starting Tuesday. This is a shift from its original plan to just issue written warnings under its two-week "operation mask up" that started Friday, and was scheduled to end Oct. 23.
Fines will be $260, states a city news release Friday. Young children, and customers who identify themselves as having a medical exemption or a disability, will not be fined, says the city.
There are currently 34 patients being treated in hospital for COVID-19 in Ottawa, eight of them in intensive care. Less than half of Ottawa's ICU beds are currently full, according to OPH, which has warned that a rush of new patients could overwhelm the health-care system.
As of 2 p.m. Thursday, OPH hadn't declared any new outbreaks in Ottawa schools, but later that night the Ottawa Catholic School Board said St. Jerome Elementary School in Riverside South has been closed after two staff members tested positive for COVID-19.
Outbreaks are now over at École élémentaire catholique Saint-François-d'Assise and Lester B. Pearson Catholic High School.
The latest batch of newly confirmed cases is evenly split between those above and below age 40.
Ontario logged a record 939 newly confirmed cases Friday. Quebec added 1,102 more cases.