COVID-19 regulations explained

Special to WC Online

OTTAWA – Over the past four weeks, the Province of Ontario and the City of Ottawa have issued many regulations, closures and restrictions under their respective states of emergency to help prevent group gatherings, flatten the spread of COVID-19 and save lives.

These are not merely guidelines – they are law.

“That’s why the city’s bylaw and Regulatory Services are monitoring, to raise awareness and, when required, enforcing compliance for many of these measures,” city staff released in a statement today (April 8)

Gatherings of five or more

The province has prohibited gatherings of five people or more, which includes social gatherings, parties, and groups playing sports. Bylaw staff will monitor and respond to complaints to ensure compliance with warnings and education – which can also carry an $880 fine, including the victim surcharge for each person involved.

Exception: Gatherings at funerals can include up to 10 people. Attendees must follow physical distancing and keep two metres from others.

Gathering in parks, using amenities and equipment

Parks are sites that attract gatherings on sports fields, courts, skateboard ramps and multiple users on equipment – like play structures, exercise-related equipment, and swings. That is why the city has closed parks, posted signs, and cordoned off equipment and amenities. Gatherings in the park and use of equipment are strictly prohibited and bylaw staff will be patrolling proactively and responding to complaints to ensure compliance through warnings and education, but it can also carry a fine of $880.

Remember, structures and equipment, even picnic tables and benches, are not cleaned regularly – which means these surfaces can help spread this highly contagious virus.

Exception: While the parks are closed for gatherings and the use of amenities, you can walk or jog directly through the park. Please do not loiter and remember to keep a two-metre distance of others and continue that physical distancing on streets and sidewalks.

Non-essential businesses and dine-in practice at restaurants

The provincial regulations require the closure of all non-essential businesses and the prohibition of all dine-in practices for food establishments. Bylaw staff will be monitoring these businesses and responding to complaints to ensure compliance, which can carry a fine of $880.

Fines for all these infractions are provincially mandated and all revenue from the fines will be collected by the Province of Ontario.

To report any violations of these protective measures to Bylaw and Regulatory Services, contact the City of Ottawa at 3-1-1.

Who handles self-isolation (quarantine) enforcement and regulations?

The Quarantine Act is a federal law and enforcement is handled by the Ottawa Police Service (OPS). OPS has been actively enforcing the regulations under the Act that cover those people who have travelled outside Canada and exhibit flu-related symptoms and received a red quarantine order receipt from Canada Border Service Agency officials. To get in touch with Ottawa police with respect to offences in relation to orders issued under the Federal Quarantine Act you can call 613-236-1222, extension 7502.

Ottawa Public Health, which is monitoring those undergoing COVID-19 testing, follows up directly with those residents receiving a positive COVID-19 test results. They establish a list of close contacts for follow-up investigations and to explain the self-isolation process. Each person also receives a Self-Isolation factsheet to ensure they understand the requirements for self-isolation.

“While many people feel burdened by restrictions and enforcement, these are in place to protect you and the health of your family, friends and fellow neighbours,” staff said. “The sooner we can flatten the spread of this virus, the sooner we can return to the lives and freedoms that we have taken for granted. Let’s remain united by keeping apart.”

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