COVID-19 numbers ‘not falling’ to the threshold for loosening restrictions in Ottawa: Dr. Etches

OTTAWA — The city’s top doctor says Ottawa has made progress in reducing the COVID-19 levels in the community, but we are not at the threshold yet to loosen the pandemic restrictions.

“They’re pretty stable right now. They’re not falling further that would take us into an area with less restrictions,” said Medical Officer of Health Dr. Vera Etches, about Ottawa’s COVID-19 case numbers and positivity rate.

The Ontario government moved Ottawa into the “orange-restrict” zone on Nov. 7, with restrictions for bars, restaurants, gyms, fitness centres, movie theatres and sports teams. Among the restrictions, bars and restaurants must stop serving alcohol at 9 p.m. and close at 10 p.m., and only four people can sit at a table.

The week Ottawa moved to the “orange-restrict” zone, Ottawa was at 35.6 cases per 100,000 people. On Nov. 27, Ottawa Public Health reported Ottawa’s COVID-19 infections per 100,00 was at 20.8 per cent, while Ottawa’s possibility rate was 1.3 per cent.

On Wednesday, Ottawa Public Health reported Ottawa’s rate per 100,000 population was 29.5 and the COVID-19 positivity rate was 1.5 per cent.

There were 46 new cases of COVID-19 in Ottawa on Wednesday. 

Speaking with CTV News at Six, Dr. Etches said Ottawa is still in the orange-restrict zone.

“We have made progress in Ottawa, collectively, a million people doing their part, and we’ve dropped the COVID levels, but they’re pretty stable right now,” said Dr. Etches.

“They’re not falling further that would take us into an area with less restrictions, such as the provincial framework called yellow. We aren’t meeting the threshold for yellow yet.”

The threshold for Ottawa to move into the “yellow-protect” zone includes a weekly incidence rate of 10 to 24 cases per 100,000 and a positivity rate of 0.5 to 1.2 per cent. The Rt number should be at approximately one per cent.

Restrictions in the “yellow-protect” zone include last call at bars and restaurants at 11 p.m. and a maximum of six people per table. Capacity limits for sports and recreation facilities are also changed, and spectators are allowed for events.

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