OTTAWA -- Ottawa will remain under a state of emergency until at least the end of September, while City of Ottawa staff will continue to work from home until the end of the year.

Council received an update on the City of Ottawa's response to the COVID-19 pandemic during its first meeting in six weeks on Wednesday morning.

On March 25, Mayor Jim Watson declared a state of emergency, saying it would help city staff deploy emergency operations "in a quicker and more nimble fashion."

During Wednesday's Council meeting, Watson said he would extend the state of emergency in the City of Ottawa until at least the end of September.

"Communities like ours continue to realize significant benefits by maintaining the declared municipal state of emergency for the time being," said Watson.

"These benefits include a more nimble procurement process through delegation of authority, which is important in the context of a competitive global market for personal protective equipment and other important materials."

Watson noted that while the Ontario Government lifted its state of emergency, new regulations have been put in place to allow the government's executive orders to be in place.

The mayor told Council that the city will maintain its declaration of emergency until at least the end of September.

"This will preserve a heightened level of vigilance and response capacity as kids return to school."

Working from home

All City of Ottawa employees that can work from home will continue to work from home until the end of the year.

City Manager Steve Kanellakos told Council he issued a directive on Aug. 11 to employees to continue working at home.

"This allows for increased physical distancing at city facilities, which contributes to the safety of staff onsite," said Kanellakos.

The city manager said the city is currently preparing for all scenarios during the pandemic, including a possible resurgence of COVID-19 cases during a second wave.

Mayor Watson told reporters that city staff are looking into possibly resuming in person Council and City Committee meetings moving forward.

Plexiglass shields have been installed between desks around the Council table in preparation for the eventual return of in person meetings.