Physical distancing

Last revised on September 21, 2020.

What is physical distancing?

In order to decrease transmission of COVID-19 in Ottawa, Ottawa Public Health recommends that everyone in Ottawa practice physical distancing. Physical distancing involves taking steps to limit the number of people outside your social circle and household that you interact with and ensuring that whenever possible the people you interact with remain more than 2 metres (6 feet) away. This will help to limit the spread of COVID-19 in the community. 

Each of our efforts are needed as a community. The actions you take 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 COVID-19 symptoms

If you have symptoms of 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 the Assessment Centre or a COVID-19 Care clinic. 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 of COVID-19. Leaving your property to go for a walk is not permitted under the Quarantine Order, issued on March 25, 2020.
  • 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 COVID-19 symptoms, follow guidance in the section above.

For ALL Ottawa residents (except those listed above)

  • Practice physical distancing – avoid all non-essential trips in the community.
  • Wear a mask always when you are in indoor public spaces and also outdoors when you cannot maintain a physical distance of at least two metres (six feet). 
  • Be Active while also being COVIDWise.
  • 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.
  • Limit 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.
  • Visits to long-term care homes (LTCH) have begun again under the guidance of the Ontario Ministry of Health
  • Keep windows down for essential community trips via taxi or rideshares.
  • While outside, 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 COVID-19. Visit this link to learn more on the new guidelines for the use of City parks.

Remember to check in with others by phone or other technology. 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 thank you for helping each other. Supporting each other is essential for us to make it through this pandemic.


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