2 Ottawa shelters reopen doors after outbreaks

Two Ottawa homeless shelters have begun accepting new clients again after temporarily pausing intake because of COVID-19 cases at their facilities.

Ottawa Mission and Cornerstone Housing for Women accepting new clients again

The Ottawa Mission is accepting new clients again after pausing admissions because of a COVID-19 outbreak. (Laura Glowacki/CBC)

Two Ottawa homeless shelters are accepting new clients again after temporarily pausing intake because of COVID-19 cases at their facilities.

The Ottawa Mission on Waller Street stopped accepting new clients in January after testing detected that multiple residents and staff had become infected with COVID-19.

A spokesperson for the shelter said in an email Wednesday that further testing detected no new cases of COVID-19.

"We were in outbreak status for part of this past month due to positive cases of [COVID-19] identified earlier by testing and therefore our intake was paused," said communications director Aileen Leo. 

"That period has now passed and we're accepting new clients provided that they've not been in the shelter for the past two weeks to protect against new infections."

Leo noted that the shelter has limited capacity for new clients and that some people may be redirected to the Tom Brown Arena — one of three respite centres run by the city — if demand exceeds the number of spaces available.

Cornerstone Housing for Women has also reopened its doors to new clients. Spokesperson Amber Bramer said Ottawa Public Health (OPH) gave the go-ahead over the weekend after clients of the shelter who tested positive were swiftly isolated.

"Our shelter is able to accept anyone in need," said Bramer. "If we don't have the space, we will work to find them a space."

The Salvation Army Ottawa Booth Centre and Shepherds of Good Hope both remain closed to new clients after COVID-19 cases were identified at their locations.

OPH's dashboard says five shelters are currently experiencing an outbreak. In total, 94 residents and 13 staff linked to those outbreaks have tested positive since the first outbreak was declared on Jan. 11.

OPH doesn't release the names of the shelters for privacy reasons. 

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