Physical (social) distancing

What is physical (social) distancing?

In order to decrease transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health is now recommending that all residents of Ottawa practise physical (social) distancing. Physical (social) distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people you come into close contact with. This will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

With more cases of COVID-19 confirmed in Ottawa, including confirmation of community spread, we are urging that everyone either practise physical (social) distancing or self-isolate if applicable.
Each of our efforts are needed as a community. The actions you take will affect not only you, but 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 coworker.

For individuals with respiratory symptoms (such as fever, cough)

  • You must self-isolate for 14 days, or 24 hours after symptoms have FULLY resolved, whichever is longer.
  • You must not leave your home if you have respiratory symptoms.
  • If your symptoms are worsening to a point where you cannot manage at home, please visit your nearest emergency department.

For individuals who are returning from travel

  • You must self-isolate for 14 days. 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 the door.
  • If you have respiratory symptoms, follow guidance in the section above.

For ALL Ottawa residents (except those listed above)

  • Practise physical (social) distancing – Avoid all non-essential trips in the community.
  • Household contacts (people you live with) do not need to distance from each other unless they are sick, or have travelled within the past 14 days.
  • Cancel ALL group gatherings.
  • 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.
  • Keep windows down for essential community trips via taxi or rideshares.
  • You can go outside (for example - to take a walk). While outside, avoid crowds and maintain a distance of two metres (six feet) from those around you.

For more information on testing and care for COVID-19, and how to practise physical (social) distancing,
visit our website: Information on financial and social supports is available on

Remember to check in with others by phone or other technology. Check in with yourself. It’s ok not to be ok, and I encourage you to reach out to the Distress Centre of Ottawa to connect with someone at 613-238-3311if you need help or are having trouble coping.

This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone. I’d like to thank you for your cooperation with physical
distancing from others and thank people who are helping each other. Supporting neighbours is essential for us to make it through this pandemic.



Learn about self-isolation

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