What the April lockdown means for the Ottawa region
Here's more on what you can and cannot do for the next 4 weeks
Starting Saturday, Ottawa will be joining the rest of Ontario under a stringent new lockdown — one that city health officials hope will be the last.
Just before the Easter long weekend, the Ford government announced sweeping new restrictions that it hopes will help curb the rising COVID-19 cases across the province.
The restrictions mean that as of 12:01 a.m. on April 3, restaurants — including their patios — will be closed to in-person dining. The same goes for all gyms, salons and camps.
No personal indoor gatherings will be allowed except with other members of your household. Those living alone will be able to partner up with one other household.
Outdoor gatherings are restricted to a maximum of five people.
Essential retailers like grocery stores, pharmacies, convenience stores will have their customer capacity capped at 50 per cent.
All other retailers will be allowed up to 25 per cent of their normal capacity.
During a city briefing Thursday, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson warned residents to not cross the river into Gatineau, Que., unless it was for work or to care for a loved one.
Across the river, the Quebec government announced its own measures Wednesday, with the Outaouais now placed in the province's red zone.
Indoor and outdoor gatherings in private homes will be prohibited, except for people living alone. Non-essential businesses, including restaurants, will close.
Even harsher restrictions are being put in place for three cities: Quebec City, Lévis and Gatineau.
In addition to restaurant dining rooms shutting down, schools, gyms, theatres, hairdressers and other non-essential businesses will be closed until April 12.
Places of worship will remain open, but they will only be allowed to welcome a maximum of 25 people.
The curfew there is now 8 p.m. to 5 a.m.
Lockdown should be the last, says Etches
On Thursday, Ottawa Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said the city's health care system is currently under immense pressure, with COVID-19 case counts and hospitalizations at an all-time high.
"If measures weren't put in like this, it would cause more strain than we can handle," she said.
Etches said, however, that she believes this could be the last lockdown Ottawa has to go through.
"This is different this time because we have the vaccination program ... we just need a bit more time to get down through the age groups to reach populations that are at higher risk," she said. "Then we should not need this kind of lockdown ever again."
During his own briefing Thursday, the Eastern Ontario Health Unit's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Paul Roumeliotis was not as confident.
The province's "emergency brake," he said, isn't as effective as adding a curfew or implementing a stay-at-home order.
"Essentially Toronto was locked down for all these periods of time and really not much changed," he said. "Cases are still going up."
- A previous version of this story said the nightly curfew began at 8 p.m. across the Outaouais. It is only at 8 p.m. in Gatineau and the MRC des Collines-de-l'Outaouais.Apr 06, 2021 8:43 AM ET