Don't travel during spring break, residents urged
Provincial stay-at-home order forbids unnecessary travel between regions
With spring break upon us, Ottawa's health experts and politicians are advising residents to abide by the province's stay-at-home order and not travel.
That means no trips to the family cottage and keeping kids close to home, according The Ottawa Hospital's Dr. Doug Manuel, who does the modelling of the local COVID-19 numbers.
"We see movement and mobility as, this is how the variants spread," he said. "So the idea is staying close to home, staying at home."
Manuel noted Ottawa's health-care system is being tested by record levels of hospitalizations. As of Saturday, Ottawa hospitals were caring for 73 COVID-19 patients, including 24 in intensive care. Manuel predicted those numbers will continue to rise.
He said anyone who contracts the virus and then travels to their cottage risks spreading the virus further, and putting unnecessary strain on smaller regional hospitals.
According to the stay-at-home order, no one should travel outside their province or region unless absolutely necessary.
"You shouldn't be crossing the bridge to go to Quebec, you shouldn't be leaving your neighborhood just to go and traipse around and in other areas," said Anthony Di Monte, the general manager responsible for the City of Ottawa's vaccine rollout, during a news conference on Friday. "This is serious."
The mayors of Ottawa and Gatineau have also discouraged residents from crossing the interprovincial border.
"It's a large piece of geography," said Mayor Jim Watson during the same meeting. "We have lots of city and NCC trails on this side, as well as parklands. So we really encourage people not to go over to a cottage or to Gatineau Park. Our best advice is please respect the borders and stay within your community."
Manuel said it's important people take that advice seriously if there's any hope of reopening schools after spring break.
On Friday, Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches said it's unlikely schools will reopen following the break.
Manual suggested parents looking to take advantage of the time off should take their children outside but follow health protocols including wearing masks and keeping their distance from others.
"People are doing a good job, but unfortunately ... it's just with the variants, we need to do a great job," he said.