What you can do in Ottawa and Gatineau starting Friday

As COVID-19 restrictions continue to loosen in both provinces, there are differences in the rules depending on which side of the river you're on.

Ontario enters Step 3 of its reopening Friday as COVID-19 cases plunge and vaccinations soar

Ottawa residents will be allowed to eat inside restaurants for the first time in months as COVID-19 restrictions ease in Ontario. (Justin Tang/Canadian Press)

Starting Friday, Ontario will enter Step 3 of its reopening plan ahead of schedule, arguably the province's most ambitious step toward reopening since the pandemic's third wave subsided.

The move will see a number of indoor venues open their doors, while limits on gathering sizes in many places will be increased.

Meanwhile, the entire province of Quebec has been in the lowest alert level of the province's colour-coded system for the past two weeks.

While COVID-19 restrictions continue to loosen in both provinces, there are differences in the rules depending on which side of the border you're on.

Here is a guide to the rules affecting Ottawa and Gatineau, as of Friday.

Gatherings inside/outside at private residences

In Ottawa, a maximum of 25 people will be allowed to get together inside private homes for parties and other occasions when the province enters Step 3. For backyards and balconies, gathering limits increase to a maximum of 100 people from different households.

In Gatineau, people are allowed to have up to 10 people, or all the occupants from three different households, at private indoor gatherings. A maximum of 20 people are allowed to gather outdoors.

The Quebec government recommends people who are not fully vaccinated wear a mask when they are within one metre of others. 

(Leah Hansen/CBC News)

Restaurants, bars and nightclubs

Starting Friday, indoor dining and drinking at restaurants and bars will be allowed in Ottawa for the first time in several months. The province has set no limit on the number of people allowed per table or in the restaurant, as long as physical distancing can be maintained between different groups. Restaurants can offer buffet service. 

Nightclubs with dance floors can also reopen with capacity limits indoors set at 25 per cent capacity to a maximum of 250 people. The province says patrons are exempt from physical distancing requirements when dancing, but that face coverings must be worn.

In Gatineau, a maximum of 10 people, or the occupants from three different households, can sit at the same table inside restaurants and bars.

At bars and breweries, customers must remain seated at their tables, except when they are going to the washroom, which means no mingling. Dancing and singing, including karaoke, isn't permitted at the moment. 

Another major difference is that alcohol sales must stop at midnight in Gatineau, whereas in Ottawa and the rest of Ontario, establishments can serve alcohol until 2 a.m. as per normal.

Gyms, sport and fitness facilities

People looking to work out, play sports or attend fitness classes indoors in Ottawa will be able to do so as of Friday. Indoor capacity at sport and fitness facilities like gyms will be capped at 50 per cent.

For the first time in months, spectators will be permitted at indoor sports and recreational facilities, with capacity limited to 50 per cent to a maximum of 1,000 people. Spectator limits at outdoor facilities with fixed seating will be 75 per cent of their usual capacity to a maximum of 15,000 people. At outdoor events without fixed seating, the capacity will be 75 per cent to a maximum of 5,000 people.

Gyms in Ottawa can reopen on Friday when Ontario moves to Step 3 of its COVID-19 reopening plan. (AP)

In Gatineau, people can already work out inside a gym and do other training activities at fitness centres either individually or in pairs. Lessons may be provided to individuals and to groups of no more than 25 people, while maintaining physical distance. 

Fifty players are now allowed for outdoor sports and recreational activities in Quebec, including guided lessons and training. This number excludes any officials, staff or volunteers. Organized games and matches as well as leagues, competitions and tournaments are also permitted, with 50 spectators allowed to watch the same match or game.

For indoor sports, the limit is 25 players and 25 spectators. 

(Leah Hansen/CBC News)


Movie theatres in Ottawa will be able to reopen with a maximum capacity of 50 per cent inside each auditorium with a cap of 1,000 people within the entire building. All moviegoers will be required to wear masks when they aren't sitting down.

Quebec allows a maximum of 250 people inside each auditorium, or up to 3,500 people if the room can be divided into areas of 250 people each. People from different households must have an empty seat between them and face coverings are also required.

Starting Friday, cinemas in Ottawa can operate at a maximum capacity of 50 per cent inside each auditorium and a cap of 1,000 people within the entire building. (CBC/Evan Mitsui)

Live performances and large events

Ottawa's performing arts venues, including concert venues like the National Arts Centre and theatres, are limited to 50 per cent capacity, with a cap of 1,000 people indoors.

Outdoor concert venues and theatres can host audiences at 75 per cent capacity or 15,000 people outdoors for events with fixed seating. For unseated events, spectators permitted at a maximum capacity of 75 per cent or 5,000 people.

In Gatineau, auditoriums and indoor stadiums with assigned seating are allowed to present shows and sporting events before an audience of up to 3,500 people. Spectators must be subdivided into sections with a cap of 250 people and one seat must remain empty between people from different households. 

Masks are mandatory in indoor events, but may be removed once seated.

Outdoor events are allowed to start admitting up to 3,500 attendees while enforcing physical distancing between people from different households and with no separate sections. 

Festivals and major outdoor events where spectators are standing or sitting with no assigned seating can be held, subject to compliance with specific health measures.

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