What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 20

Here's CBC Ottawa's latest roundup of key updates during the coronavirus pandemic.

Key updates on COVID-19 in the region

Person wearing a mask pictured walking around Ottawa on a warm, sunny day in June 2021. (Brian Morris/CBC)

Recent developments:

  • Ottawa festivals are returning with a mix of virtual and live music this weekend. 
  • Ottawa Public Health (OPH) reports 26 more COVID-19 cases Friday.
  • Ontario reports 650 more cases, the highest provincial count since June.

What's the latest?

Ottawa Public Health reported 26 more COVID-19 cases and no new deaths Friday. Hospitalizations remain low, with two people in hospital due to the virus, and one patient in an intensive care unit.

Ontario reported 650 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, the most on a single day since early June, while the number of patients being treated for COVID-related illnesses in critical care rose to 135.

Three local music festivals open this week in Ottawa with a mix of virtual events and smaller live performances. The TD Ottawa Jazz Festival Executive producer Catherine O'Grady says she's "super excited" the festival is able to safely host in-person musical events this summer.

"These artists can only play in their living rooms and basements for so long," said O'Grady, "They just need really to have that energy, that electricity that only audiences can provide."

How many cases are there?

As of Thursday, 28,075 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 143 known active cases, 27,339 cases considered resolved, and 593 people who have died from the illness.

Public health officials have reported more than 50,900 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 49,600 cases now resolved.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 199 people have died with COVID-19. In western Quebec, the death toll is 215.

Akwesasne has had more than 725 residents test positive with COVID-19, and has reported 10 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi has had 34 cases and one death. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 13, with one death. Pikwakanagan hasn't had any.

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 are the rules?

Eastern Ontario:

Ontario is in Step 3 of its reopening plan. It will stay there for the foreseeable future.

The plan allows indoor dining, with capacity limits based on distancing. Gyms, movie theatres and museums can reach a capacity of 50 per cent inside.

Larger general gathering limits are 25 people inside and 100 people outside. Those limits are even higher for organized events, leading to the resumption of summer festivals and professional sports.

Ontario's back-to-school plan allows for extracurricular activities, and while masks remain mandatory, vaccines are not.

Western Quebec

Western Quebec is now under green zone restrictions, the lowest on the province's four-colour scale.

The physical distancing length in the province has been reduced to one metre.

Ten people are allowed to gather inside private residences and 20 people outdoors — which increases to 50 if playing sports.

Events where people remain seated in designated spaces, like bleachers or stands, can now welcome up to 250 people indoors and 500 people outdoors.

Stadiums, venues and festivals can welcome 15,000 spectators outdoors and 7,500 people indoors.

This province's school plans don't include classroom bubbles or masks in class.

The province will introduce a vaccine passport Sept. 1 for spaces such as public events, bars, restaurants and gyms.

What can I do?

COVID-19 primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air.

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

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future, such as 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.

Vaccines curb the spread of all variants of COVID-19.

Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and recommended in crowded outdoor areas.

There's federal guidance for what vaccinated people can do in different situations.

Fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents can now skip the 14-day quarantine when travelling back to Canada. People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine.

Fully vaccinated Americans can visit Canada without having to quarantine, while tourists from all other countries are set to be allowed as of Sept. 7. The U.S. border remains closed to non-essential travel until at least Saturday.

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

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 of self-isolation varies in Quebec and Ontario.


Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada. Three are in use, with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine the only one approved for youth born as late as 2009.

Canada's vaccine task force says people can wait up to 16 weeks between doses. Factors pushed provinces to drastically speed up that timeline, including supply and the more infectious delta variant.

That same task force says it's safe and effective to mix first and second doses.

There have been more than 3.2 million COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in the wider Ottawa-Gatineau region — combined first and second doses — which has about 2.3 million residents.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating anyone who will be age 12 or older in 2021. It will offer third booster shots to certain vulnerable groups.

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 do some family doctors.

Local health units have flexibility in the larger framework, including around booking, so check their websites for details. They offer standby lists and walk-in doses on short notice.

Campaigns are shifting away from mass clinics to mobile clinics to target those who haven't yet received those first dose, or can now get their second shot.

Western Quebec

Quebec is vaccinating anyone 12 and older. Its goal is to provide second doses four weeks after the first.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone or visit one of the province's permanent and mobile walk-in clinics.

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. Recently, a runny nose and headache have become more common.

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. Rapid tests are available in some places.

Travellers who need a test have a few local options to pay for one. Those options now include Ottawa's Brewer Arena.

In western Quebec:

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

People can make an appointment and check wait times online. Some walk-in testing is available.

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 COVID-19 test and vaccine clinics, with information online or at 613-575-2341. Anyone in Tyendinaga who's interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and should watch the website for dedicated vaccine clinics.

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

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