New as of March 24
To further contain the spread of COVID-19, the Ontario Government will order the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces effective as of Tuesday, March 24th at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days with the possibility of extending this order as the situation evolves. A full list of businesses that are permitted to stay open will be released tomorrow.
Businesses that can continue operations with employees working remotely, or through other contingency measures, are being given approximately 36 hours to prepare and adapt. Essential services may continue their operations to maintain supply chains and ensure the people of Ontario have access to necessities, including groceries, medicines and other essential products.
A 1-800 number and website will be made available on Wednesday for any inquiries.
To support Ontarians through the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, the Government of Ontario is providing immediate electricity rate relief for families, small businesses and farms paying time-of-use (TOU) rates.
For a 45-day period, the government is working to suspend time-of-use electricity rates, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour. This reduced price will be available 24 hours per day, seven days a week to all time-of-use customers, who make up the majority of electricity consumers in the province. By switching to a fixed off-peak rate, time-of-use customers will see rate reductions of over 50 per cent compared to on-peak rates.
To deliver savings as quickly and conveniently as possible, this discount will be applied automatically to electricity bills without the need for customers to fill out an application form.
The Government of Ontario issued an Emergency Order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act to apply the off-peak TOU electricity rate for residential, small businesses, and farm customers who currently pay TOU rates.
Ontario Implements Enhanced Measures to Protect the Safety of Residents in Long-Term Care Homes
Additional protocols help keep province’s most vulnerable safe
Ontario is taking further steps to ensure that health sector workers, including those that work in the long-term care sector, are available, where and when they are needed. These enhanced measures will support the province’s extensive efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
On March 23, Ontario enacted a new order under the March 17, 2020 declaration of emergency to ensure personnel are properly deployed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 to keep staff, volunteers and residents in long-term care homes safe. This temporary order would give long-term care homes the ability to free-up valuable staff, identify staffing priorities, and develop, modify and implement redeployment plans.
Under this temporary order long-term care homes will be able to respond to, prevent and alleviate an outbreak of COVID-19 by carrying out measures such as:
- Redeploying staff within different locations in (or between) facilities of the health service provider;
- Changing the assignment of work, including assigning non-bargaining unit employees or contractors to perform bargaining unit work;
- Changing the scheduling of work or shift assignments;
- Deferring or cancelling vacations, absences or other leaves, regardless of whether such vacations, absences or leaves are established by statute, regulation, agreement or otherwise;
- Employing extra part-time or temporary staff or contractors, including for the purpose of performing bargaining unit work;
- Using volunteers to perform work, including to perform bargaining unit work; and
- Providing appropriate training or education as needed to staff and volunteers to achieve the purposes of a redeployment plan.
Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, has also issued a new directive for long-term care homes under the Long-Term Care Homes Act, 2007 that restricts residents from leaving a home for short visits with family and friends. In doing so, the province is ensuring residents do not inadvertently contract COVID-19 while out of the home and spread the virus upon their return. Instead, residents who want to go outside will be able to remain on the home’s property and maintain safe social distancing from any family and friends who visit them.
To help maintain the health and safety of residents, staff and essential visitors, Ontario is also increasing long-term care bed availability to ensure homes are able to provide isolation rooms when required, as well as providing long-term beds for people on the long-term care waitlist. In particular, patients in the hospital who no longer require hospital services will benefit from this increased long-term care bed capacity, and their placement into long-term care will also free up hospital beds to treat acute patients.
In addition, Ontario is making necessary adjustments to ensure both resident and families’ wishes are taken into account, and a sufficient number of staff are available to support long-term care home residents. Updated procedures will bring further clarity around admitting, discharging, and readmitting long-term care home residents at a time when homes are trying their best to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among residents, staff and essential visitors.
Lastly, the province is ensuring sufficient nursing and personal support care staff are available to support long-term care home residents. All new nurses and personal support workers hired to help long-term care homes cope with COVID-19 will be screened to ensure they are qualified and present no risk to long-term care home residents.
These critical steps add to the protocols that have recently been implemented to ensure a safe and secure environment for residents.
Long-term care homes continue to restrict non-essential visits and actively screen essential visitors, staff, students, volunteers, residents moving into a long-term care home and residents returning to a long-term care home.
As of March 9, 2020, when long-term care homes submit samples for standard respiratory testing, they are also being tested for COVID-19 automatically to ensure the province identifies potentially unknown cases.
It has been another busy start to our week as the information, and measures at all levels of government in response to this pandemic, are changing rapidly. We are working around the clock to provide information to the public as soon as possible.
As of this morning, OPH is investigating 22 confirmed cases and 11 indeterminate cases. I know there is always a lot of interest in how many confirmed cases are in our community, but we know that these cases are really only one small part of the COVID-19 response. As I mentioned yesterday, we now have laboratory confirmation of community spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ottawa and that there could be up to 4,000 cases in Ottawa. I want to take the time to help people understand how we determine these estimates.
Researchers at the University of Toronto developed a model that describes COVID-19 transmission based on a model that was used in 2009 for H1N1 pandemic planning in Canada. This model tries to take into account that:
- In addition to diagnosed cases, there are/will be cases that go undetected because they have no symptoms, or only mild symptoms;
- Symptomatic and asymptomatic cases contribute to spread; and
- Coronavirus infection spreads at different rates depending on several factors (i.e. age, number of contacts, asymptomatic vs. symptomatic, etc.).
The model is used as a planning tool, to help predict healthcare resources needed, and potential positive impacts of strategies, such as physical (social) distancing and school closures. It helps us make comparisons between types of interventions versus no interventions. It is approximate, and daily numbers will fluctuate. For example, the model shouldn’t be used to say we will have X number of cases on March 23 or June 10; it should be used to see how interventions may impact estimated number of cases over time.
The model estimates, based on having 27 diagnosed cases on Sunday, that there are between 200 and 4,000 total diagnosed and undiagnosed cases in Ottawa now. We released the number publicly to help raise awareness that COVID-19 is in our community, and to communicate that we all need to do our part to slow down transmission of infection by limiting our contact with others. We just received an updated model, so we are still working to understand how to apply that to the current situation in Ottawa.
The model isn’t going to give us perfect numbers that I can provide into the future, because interventions are changing. Instead, we are continuing to work on data sources that will give us a better picture of what is happening in our community. For example, we are looking at emergency room visits for fever and cough, we are looking at ways to ask people to report to us if they have fever and cough in the community. We also want more information on whether people are adhering to physical (social) distancing guidance in our community. All of the additional information sources we are building will help build a better picture and more precise projections of where we are at on the “curve” of infections in our community.
We will continue to share more information about the number of estimated infections in the community as our surveillance systems evolve. We are working toward adding this information on our website so it is available to the public and the media, and importantly to our health system partners as this information helps them with health system planning over the next several months.
Given this information about community spread, we all need to be vigilant to continue physical (social) distancing. Now is not the time for non-essential excursions outside the home or for having friends and family over to visit. Overall, physical (social) distancing means to limit the total number of people you come in close contact with; ideally you are able to limit your contact to only people within your household. Limit contact with everyone outside your household unless you have essential work, or if you need important support from one other person.
So this means, that you should only be connecting with friends and family virtually and to limit how often you go to the grocery store. When you do go outside of your homes, to go for a walk or to get groceries, keep at least 2 metres distance apart from others. Parks remain open, but we ask that you do not congregate in parks, on sports fields, courts and playgrounds – again all to limit your close contacts with anyone outside your household. Essentially, physical (social) distancing and keeping two meters distance from others applies to all setting when other people are around.
The additional measures announced earlier today by the province of Ontario, that there will be a mandatory closure of all non-essential work places, will help limit these non-essential outings. We will be working with our City colleagues to determine local implications, but please be reassured that we will have access to food, utilities and essential products. In my statement yesterday, I encouraged that people should not visit non-essential businesses including but not limited to clothing retail stores, hair and nail salons, tattoo parlours, gym and fitness facilities, banquet halls and conference centres; we will share the list of businesses permitted to stay open once released tomorrow by the province.
Many people are returning home from travel and will need groceries and essential items. It is imperative that all returning travellers self-isolate for 14 days. If you are self-isolating it means that; groceries and essential items should be picked up by a family member or friend, or acquired through on-line ordering options.
We are working with the airport to ensure all travellers are aware of this information about self-isolation. Having a COVID-19 test result or not does not change the actions that individuals in the community need to take now. If you have travelled or are ill with a respiratory illness, stay home – and for all of us, now is the time to limit our interactions with others outside of our household as much as possible.
We continue to have many questions about what self-isolation actually means. Self-isolation means you need to stay home and avoid contact with others.
- Do not use public transportation;
- Do not go to work or school or the grocery store;
- Stay in a separate room away from other people in your home as much as possible and use a separate bathroom if you have one; and
- If you are in a room with other people, keep a distance of at least two meters from others and wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth.
People who are self-isolating, and who do not have symptoms, can continue to go outside for a walk or to a local greenspace; however, I can’t say this enough – they should not gather with others and it is essential they keep 2 metres away from others. It is important that individuals who are self-isolating have no contact with anyone other than household members. Guidance for residents who are self-isolating is available on our website, as well as information about cleaning your home, personal hygiene, laundry and waste disposal.
Thank you for continuing to share this information and please visit our website regularly for the latest updates: OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus.
The following are suggestions Ottawa business owners can take to increase security to their properties that are temporarily closed:
- Remove all valuables from store front displays. This will help mitigate smash and grab scenarios such as jewelry and electronic stores.
- Remove all valuables such as cash from the till and leave open. Place the cash tray in plain view on the counter to signal there’s no money in the till.
- Consider installing an alarm monitoring system. If one is already present ensure the contact list is up to date.
- Clearly post signage on the door/window to indicate premises is:
- Monitored by alarm company;
- No money is kept on premises; and
- Contact information for the police and business owner in the event a member of the public observes damage to property or suspicious activity.
- If the premise is closed for an extended period of time, clean all glass surfaces and create a tracking log of when cleaning was completed. This may assist investigators with suspect fingerprints if a break in occurs.
- Consider installing a surveillance camera system that can be monitored online by owner/management.
- Consider using a laminate on all windows and glass doors to increase glass integrity from blunt force. Although damage to glass will occur in an attempt break in, it will greatly discourage or prevent entry.
- Install latch guards on doors to protect against prying, this should include secondary doors such as employee and loading entrances.
- Keep some lighting on inside for surveillance opportunities during the evening.
- Ensure all doors are properly secured and regularly check all exterior lighting is functioning.
- Remove material around the exterior of property that maybe be used to gain entry into the premises (brick, metal poles and construction materials)
General protective measures
- Keep the interior, front and rear entrances well lighted.
- Keep advertising and merchandise out of windows as much as possible.
- Always keep the rear and side doors locked.
- Maintain a record of decoy or “bait” currency to be given to a robber.
- Be sure your alarms are in good working order at all times.
- Do not open your place of business before or after regular business hours.
- Avoid routine procedures which can be observed and used to the advantage of would-be robbers.
- Call the police if a request is received to open after regular hours.
For further information please refer to the attached link:
The Ottawa Police Service has initiated a targeted proactive patrol initiative, tailored to the new reality of the majority of the City’s businesses being closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Along with regular patrols, Ottawa Police has identified sectors throughout the city with a high concentration of restaurants, small businesses and manufacturing industries. The sectors are further broken down into sub-sectors, where officers are assigned specific areas to patrol during their shift.
The increased officer presence is to prevent crimes and keep our city and businesses safe. A great example is the work done by our frontline this past weekend in responding and arresting suspects in four break and enters.
The Ottawa Police would like to remind residents that effective and efficient policing can only be achieved through a collaborative effort and partnership. If you see something, say something.
For further information on keeping your business safe, please refer to our: Tips on how to increase the safety of your business.
Anonymous tips can be submitted by calling Crime Stoppers toll free at 1-800-222-8477 or at crimestoppers.ca.
Ontario has created a new self-assessment tool
If you think you have 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, use this self-assessment to help determine if you need to seek further care. Visit here.
If you require help in Ottawa South, please visit our website for Community links and contacts.
Ottawa Public Health
For the latest updates, please click here.
Government of Ontario
Every day at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET, the Province of Ontario’s novel coronavirus (COVID-19) web page will be updated with the most up-to-date information including the status of cases in Ontario.
Government of Canada
For the latest COVID-19 updates, please click here.
For the latest on Employment and Social Development changes for employees and employers, click here.