OTTAWA -- The City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health want visitors to the ByWard Market to be "social wise" while you socialize in the popular entertainment and tourist district during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mayor Jim Watson announced on Twitter that signs have been installed on Clarence Street in the ByWard Market to remind people to be "social wise" while out for dinner or drinks this summer. 

The signs say, "when you socialize, make sure to socialWISE."

The signs also suggest the ByWard Market is a "mask zone", and people should wear a mask when physical distancing is not possible. 

Ottawa Public Health and the City of Ottawa remind people in the ByWard Market that to reduce the risk in crowded spaces:

  • Wear a mask
  • Isolate yourself when you're sick
  • Stay two metres apart from others
  • Exercise proper hand hygiene

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brent Moloughney said, "last weekend saw crowded streets in the ByWard Market."

"As bars and restaurants reopen, we need to be cautious of congestion that can lead to the transmission of COVID-19 by not distancing and not using masks outside in crowded areas. While being outdoors generally lowers risk of COVID-19 transmission, you still need to maintain that physical space between others."

Council was told earlier this month that Ottawa Bylaw issued violations to 16 establishments in the ByWard Market the weekend of July 10-12. Councillor Mathieu Fleury said the violations included not following physical distancing guidelines and being too loud.

Dr. Moloughney and Ottawa Public Health insist socializing is important for our mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you need to be careful.

"It means being 'social wise' when you socialize to reduce the risk of such activities. This means keeping visits with friends shorter, reducing the number of participants, meeting outdoors and maintaining a two-metre distance."

Ottawa Public Health reminds people that face masks are mandatory in all indoor public settings, including restaurants, bars and movie theatres.

The health unit has been urging people to be COVID-wise as more businesses reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-wise stands for:

W – wear a mask or face covering when you are in indoor spaces and when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres

I – Isolate yourself from others when you are sick

S – Stay two metres apart from those outside your household

E – Exercise proper hand hygiene, wash your hands regularly or use sanitizer especially before touching your face.