Physical distancing

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State of emergency in effect. Stay at home except for essential travel and follow the restrictions and public health measures. We are currently updating our pages to reflect the new provincial measures. City updates how Province’s stay-at-home measures will impact some in-person services and facilities.


Last revised on November 20, 2020.

What is physical distancing?

To decrease transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health recommends that everyone practice physical distancing. Physical distancing means keeping our distance from one another, at least two metres (six feet) apart, and limiting non-essential activities outside the home.

When outside your home, even when wearing a mask, physical distancing remains a priority whenever possible.

Limit the number of people you have contact with outside your household. If you live alone, limit your contacts to your 1-2 exclusive social support person(s). This will help to limit the transmission of COVID-19 in the community. 

Each of our efforts are needed as a community. The actions you take affect not only you but also your loved ones and the most vulnerable people in our community. By acting now, you may be saving lives – the life of a family member, a neighbour, a friend, or a co-worker.

For individuals with COVID-19 symptoms

If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (e.g., cough, fever, difficulty breathing):  

If you are in distress (e.g., significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting, or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptoms), do not go to an Assessment Centre or a COVID-19 Care and Testing Centre. Go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 9-1-1.

For individuals who are returning from travel

  • The Federal Quarantine Act requires any person entering Canada by air, sea or land to self-isolate for 14 days, whether or not they have symptoms consistent with  COVID-19. Leaving your property to go for a walk is not permitted under the Quarantine Order, issued on March 25, 2020.
  • You must go directly to your place of self-isolation without stopping anywhere. Do not go to community settings, including the grocery store. If you need groceries or other essential items, have a family member, friend or neighbour do this for you and leave items at your door.
  • If you have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, follow the guidance in the section above.

For ALL Ottawa residents (except those listed above)

  • Practice physical distancing wherever it is possible to do so, even while wearing a mask or face covering.
  • Be COVID Wise :
    • W- Wear a mask or face covering where required, or when you cannot maintain a physical distance of two metres (six feet).
    • I- Isolate yourself from others when you are sick (and get tested promptly if you have COVID-like symptoms).
    • S- Stay two metres (six feet) apart from those outside your household.
    • E- Exercise proper hand hygiene; wash your hands regularly or use sanitizer especially before touching your face.
  • Avoid all non-essential trips into the community.
  • Be active 
  • Limit group gatherings; note that you do not need to distance yourself from household contacts (people you live with)―or, if you live alone, your 1-2 chosen social-support person(s) ―unless they are sick or have travelled within the past 14 days.
  • Connect via phone, video chat, or social media instead of in person.
  • Talk to your employer about working from home (if possible).
  • Avoid visiting elderly friends or relatives unless the visit is essential.
  • Follow updated guidance from the Ontario Ministry of Health for areas with higher community spread before visiting long-term care homes. 
  • Keep windows down (weather permitting), wear a mask and sit in the rear passenger side seat for essential community trips via taxi or rideshares.
  • Avoid spitting in public, avoid crowds and maintain a distance of two metres (six feet) from those around you. Make an effort to step aside or pass others quickly and courteously on sidewalks. Passing someone on the sidewalk is not considered close contact or a significant risk for exposure to the COVID-19 virus. Visit the City’s Parks and green space webpage to learn more on the guidelines for the use of City parks.

Remember to check in with yourself. It is important to take care of your mental health. It’s ok to not be ok.  Reach out to the Distress Centre of Ottawa to connect with someone at 613-238-3311 if you need help or are having trouble coping.

This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone. Ottawa Public Health would like to thank you for your cooperation with physical distancing and being COVID Wise. Supporting each other is essential for us to make it through this pandemic. We will get through this together.


 (Information in Arabic) المعلومات باللغة العربية

COVID-19 Update

Contact Information

Ottawa Public Health COVID-19 telephone line

  • Monday to Friday, from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm
  • Weekends, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
  • Translation is available in multiple languages
  • Telephone: 613-580-6744 follow the prompts to the COVID-19 telephone line
  • TTY: 613-580-9656

Emergency Services

  • If you are in distress (e.g., significant trouble breathing, chest pain, fainting, or have a significant worsening of any chronic disease symptoms), do not go to the Assessment Centre or a COVID-19 Care clinic. Go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 9-1-1.

See someone not respecting COVID-19 rules?

How to access help during COVID-19

  • 211 Ontario can help you find financial and social support during COVID-19
  • Telephone: 2-1-1

Related Information



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