The rapidly spreading Omicron variant of COVID-19 is causing many people to scramble to update their vacation plans.
On Friday, the federal government said Canadian citizens and permanent residents are no longer exempt from PCR testing for short trips across the U.S. border – an addendum to its announcement earlier this week advising against non-essential international travel.
Meanwhile, the Ontario government and Ottawa Public Health are juggling resources to get more recalls to the guns. Starting Monday, anyone 18 years of age and over can book their booster, three months after their second dose.
With all the changes, keeping things clear can be a bit confusing. So, with the holidays just around the corner, here are the latest guidelines on testing and restrictions in Ottawa.
How do I get a free quick test?
While many Ottawa students were sent home with free rapid tests before the holidays, those who did not have children in school found the kits more difficult to find.
Seven LCBO branches received test kits from the province on Friday, but Premier Doug Ford said the kits “have disappeared like rapid fire” across Ontario.
Ottawa Public Health said 10 locations in the city will receive free rapid test deliveries on Tuesday, but the agency has not indicated where those locations are.
They will, however, be in addition to Friday’s LCBO locations.
WATCH | How to use a take-home COVID-19 test
What if I test positive for COVID-19?
SPO says he’s already late on contact tracing due to the increase in the number of cases. He asks people who test positive to isolate themselves immediately and contact their close contacts themselves.
The health unit says it will always contact you if your test is positive. If you do, you should self-isolate for 10 days from the onset of symptoms or from the date of the positive test if you are asymptomatic.
Household members should stay in a separate room from the person who tested positive or contact public health for information on staying in an isolation center.
For more information on the centers, call 613-580-2424 ext. 25890 or e-mail SPOcentreisolement@ottawa.ca.
When should I get tested?
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, OPH says you shouldn’t wait to see if the symptoms improve, but rather book a COVID-19 test immediately and isolate until you have your results, even if. you are vaccinated.
With Omicron, these symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, cough, sore throat, and runny nose.
If a close contact tells you they’ve tested positive, book a COVID-19 test immediately – again, even if you’re fully immunized. Due to the backlog in contact tracing, do not wait for public health to contact you.
OPH has created a new page where it lists exhibits from the COVID-19 community so that the public can follow more easily.
Where can I get tested?
Public health operates several test sites across the city. You can visit OPH test site for pop-up locations, vacation hours, and appointment bookings.
Starting Monday, Centretown, Sandy Hill and Somerset West Community Health Centers will suspend COVID-19 testing services so staff can be redeployed to support the province’s mass vaccination campaign.
Several Ottawa pharmacies also have tests available for purchase. They can be found on the Ontario site website.
WATCH | Ottawa Public Health says number of new cases “on worst possible curve” as the holidays approach
What are the restrictions?
Ontario and Ottawa tightened the restrictions on Friday, and while there are a lot of similarities in the new rules, they aren’t exactly the same.
When they appear to be in conflict, the stricter of the two rules is the rule, OPH said.
For example, Ontario lowered the limit of people allowed at a table in a restaurant to 10 people, while Etches called to six per table. So in Ottawa, the six will be the rule.
Ontario’s new restrictions take effect Sunday at 12:01 am Limits for indoor social gatherings will be reduced from 25 to 10, and outdoor gatherings will be reduced from 100 to 25.
The combined rules mean capacity limits will drop to 50% for many Ottawa businesses, including:
- Restaurants, bars and other catering establishments.
- Shopping centers and retailers, including grocery stores and pharmacies.
- Congress centers and meeting or event spaces.
- Personal care services such as hair salons, salons and tattoo parlors.
- Indoor recreational facilities, fairs and festivals.
- Tour and guide services.
- Strip clubs.
- Indoor sports and indoor clubhouses affiliated with outdoor recreation facilities.
- Concert halls, theaters and cinemas.
- Museums, galleries and similar attractions.
- Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments.
- Faith-based organizations and places of worship.
You can read more about the Ontario Rules here and the Ottawa Rules here.
The rules are legally binding under the Ontario Reopening Act. Arrest officers will be ready to enforce the restrictions on Monday, city officials said.