OTTAWA -- As Ottawa prepares to move into Stage 3 of Ontario’s COVID-19 reopening plan, the medical officer of health says we must continue to learn to live with COVID-19 and "do things a bit differently" to limit the risks. 

“It is true that we have made a lot of progress. The number of cases in Ottawa, the number of hospitalizations are very stable but it is always with us right now, we haven’t eliminated it,” said Dr. Vera Etches during an interview on CTV News at Six.

“The risk of outbreaks is there. So, if you are at risk of getting more severe disease, just take it more slowly, keep the number of your contacts still low.”

On Friday, dine in restaurants, movie theatres, gyms and playground equipment will reopen. Indoor gathering limits will increase from 10 to a maximum of 50 people, while outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people.

“I think what we know is that it’s been hard so far. People do need to get back to work, that’s also part of learning to live with COVID,” said Dr. Etches Monday evening.

“We need to have a balance here. When we look ahead the next number of months, it’s going to be constant monitoring, how are we doing, providing feedback to people and really encouraging each other to keeping doing what you’ve done, which has worked.  Keeping that physical distancing up, adding in the masks when you can’t be apart from people inside.”

Physical distancing is still required during any gathering with people from outside an individual’s social circle.

As part of the move to Stage 3 in Ottawa and eastern Ontario, a number of high-risk businesses and activities must remain closed, including amusement parks, water parks, buffet-style food services, dancing in restaurants and bars, private karaoke rooms, and no table games at casinos.

The medical officer of health says the “hard work” of Ottawa residents has allowed the city to move into Stage 3 of the COVID-19 reopening plan.

“We need to do things a bit differently. It means resuming these activities with physical distancing and yes, wearing a mask indoors certainly when you enter a gym facility so you’re providing that protection to the greeter and the others as you come in,” said Dr. Etches when asked by CTV News at Six anchor Graham Richardson about whether you need to wear a mask while in the gym.

“No, you can’t be expected to exercise wearing a mask. So that can come off, wash your hands and proceed with the activity.”

As you make plans to go to a restaurant or expand your activities, Dr. Etches warns some of the activities are a “higher risk” of COVID-19.

“Whether you’re in a bar or other places where people are closer together and so we do need people to continue to consider their own personal risk.  If you’re an older adult, you know maybe some of these activities are still ones you should wait to begin.”