City of Ottawa staff reviewing provincial stay-at-home order this week to determine enforcement
OTTAWA -- City of Ottawa staff will be reviewing the provincial stay-at-home order this week to determine how it will be enforced.
Premier Doug Ford announced the stay-at-home order Tuesday afternoon. The new order will require everyone to stay at home except for essential purposes such as going to the grocery store, accessing medical services or exercising.
It will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, with violators subject to fines and possible jail time.
Mayor Jim Watson and other city staff spoke at a press conference Tuesday afternoon following the announcement from Premier Ford.
Both Watson and Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches stressed the need for everyone to follow the new guidelines and stay at home as much as possible.
"The evidence before us shows that we must do more to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that is why I support the decision to implement these further restrictions," Watson said.
However, details of how the new restrictions would be implemented and enforced in Ottawa were not readily available from City officials Tuesday.
Emergency and Protective Services General Manager Anthony Di Monte told reporters that City staff must still see and review the new restrictions from the province before they could announce how the measures would affect residents' lives.
"It takes a couple of days to see the details of the regulations," Di Monte said. "The city manager has called a meeting with the senior leadership team to start looking at that and it may mean we will be shutting down some of the city operations, including rinks, et cetera. The details will be part of the review."
Ottawa bylaw officers and Ottawa police officers will have the authority to enforce the new rules. Di Monte said enforcement is a "supplementary tool" in the goal of keeping COVID-19 transmission low.
"Our bylaw officers—and officers of the Ottawa Police Service as well—our interactions are always toward that objective," he said. "That said, it's clear that over last weekend we saw behaviours that aren't compatible with that, and certainly we will ramp up our enforcement to ensure that people respect the rules in place so that our community can get back to a healthy state."
Di Monte said the main message for everyone is to remain home as much as possible.
"It seems pretty clear to me that the objective here is to stay at home as much as you can and only travel for essentials: groceries, medicine, or a walk around the block for exercise," he said.
According to CTV's Queen's Park Bureau Chief Colin D'Mello, ice rinks, tobogganing hills, playgrounds and parks will be permitted to open with conditions.
Speaking on Newstalk 580 CFRA's "Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron", Watson said he wants to see the rinks remain open, but he is waiting for more clarity from the province.
"My desire would be to see that we are able to keep the rinks open as long as possible and as safe as possible, but we'll have to see the details," he said.
The National Capital Commission told Newstalk 580 CFRA that it would wait to see what the City and Ottawa Public Health announce this week before making a call about how the stay-at-home order would affect the opening of the Rideau Canal Skateway.
Advice for getting outdoors
Dr. Etches said she still encourages people to get outside and exercise during the pandemic.
Exercise is permitted under the stay-at-home order, but Dr. Etches says people may need to adapt how they take part.
"There will be some ability for people to get outside every day and I strongly recommend that. I have all along," she said. "Where I think we maybe need to adapt is we need to make that exercise closer to home and avoid places that are crowded. If you're going to go out with your household, make sure it's just your household."
Over the weekend, Ottawa Bylaw officers issued nearly 500 verbal warnings to people under the recently enacted class order by Ottawa Public Health limiting capacity at outdoor rinks and other outdoor recreation sites to 25 people. That prompted a call for increased ticketing from residents, including one city councillor.
Watson told CFRA's "Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron" that he wants to see tickets handed out to people breaking COVID-19 rules.
"I've discussed with Mr. Di Monte that the time for warnings is over and ticketing has to begin. You need to get people in their pocketbook in order for them to, unfortunately in some cases, smarten up."