OTTAWA -- As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, governments are taking stronger measures to limit the spread of the virus.

The City of Ottawa and the Province of Ontario have declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here is a list of rules that may affect you.

Gatherings of more than five people

Gatherings of more than five people are illegal under provincial order. Ottawa By-Law officers have been given the authority to enforce Ontario's Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. By-Law will respond to the following:

  • Gatherings of more than five people. Ten people are permitted for funerals.
  • Gatherings in City of Ottawa parks, including the use of play structures
  • Restaurants that are offering dine-in options to customers. Take-out services are permitted.
  • Business that are open without an exemption

Residents are asked to call 3-1-1 if they have concerns.

Director of Ottawa's By-Law and Regulatory Services, Roger Chapman, says the City is entering into the charging phase and will be handing out fines for non-compliance.

By-law says it will fine people $880 for failing to comply with the prohibitions, and $1,130 for obstructing a by-law officer from enforcing them. Both of those amounts include a victim surcharge.

The provincial act allows for fines of up to $100,000 for individuals, $500,000 for a director of a corporation or $10-million for a corporation itself.

Quarantine for travellers returning to Canada

Ottawa Police are empowered to enforce the federal Quarantine Act, which requires people returning from travel outside Canada to quarantine themselves for 14 days, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19.

The City of Ottawa says self-isolation for travellers who return to Canada does permit them to leave their house for fresh air or exercise if they are symptom-free, as long as they maintain physical distancing of two metres; however, the Government of Canada advises that this should be done in a private area, like a balcony or back yard. Trips into the community, including for groceries, are prohibited during a 14-day mandatory quarantine period. Have a relative, neighbour or friend pick up essential items, or have them delivered. 

Essential workers are exempt from the order.

Violators could face fines up to a maximum of $750,000 and/or a six-month prison term.

Residents can call 613-236-1222 ext. 7502 if they have concerns.

Physical distancing

Physical distancing, also known as social distancing, is a recommendation by health officials but is not law. Police and By-Law and Regulatory Services cannot enforce physical distancing.

It is recommended you keep a distance of at least two-metres between yourself and others if you're out in public to help limit the spread of COVID-19.


Many parking restrictions remain in place, but the City has lifted restrictions on overtime parking on residential streets.

Overtime parking will not be enforced on residential streets, signed or unsigned, until further notice.

Ottawa By-Law says other parking restrictions remain in effect, including:

  • No Stopping
  • No Parking
  • Fire Route
  • Accessible Parking
  • Hydrants
  • Sidewalks

Fines range from $40 to $450, depending on the infraction.

Interprovincial crossings

The Province of Quebec is screening travellers who enter the province and is denying entry to those whose reasons for traveling are not considered essential.

This applies to the interprovincial crossings between Ottawa and Gatineau. There are random police checkpoints set up on the Quebec side, where officers will screen travellers on a case-by-case basis.

There is no plan, at this time, for Ontario police to screen travellers from Quebec entering Ontario.

Burn ban

While not directly related to COVID-19, there is a citywide burn ban in place, prohibiting open-air fires even for those with a permit to do so.

Ottawa Fire says the ban, which came into effect April 1, will remain in effect for as long as necessary.

Public Information Officer Jennifer McNeely says "As the City is in a state of emergency, it is important that first responders remain available for other priority incidents."

As of April 3, there is a provincewide restriction on outdoor fires in Ontario's entire legislated fire region. Locally, the Ontario fire region begins immediately west of the City of Ottawa's boundary. 

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry says "residents who live in an area with a restricted fire zone cannot have an outdoor fire—this includes burning of grass, debris and campfires, even when using an outdoor fire grate, fire place or fire pit."

The restriction will remain in place until Ontario's ability to respond to emergencies is no longer impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, the ministry says.