Ottawa is expected to go back into the red. Here’s what that means

The red zone brings with it more restrictions on gatherings of all kinds.

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It appears Ottawa is headed back to the red zone after one month of city life in the less restrictive orange category.

Ottawa’s medical officer of health, Dr. Vera Etches, said Tuesday that Ottawa has crossed the threshold into the red zone based on the provincial framework that sets out measures to control the spread of COVID-19.

That framework sets “indicators” to determine when a region moves from one zone to another. Ottawa has vaulted past red zone indicators with more than 40 in 100,000 people testing positive for COVID-19 for four consecutive days; the percentage of people testing positive has also climbed to 2.5 per cent.

“We now expect that the provincial restrictions in the red zone, such as restaurant occupancy of 10 people indoors and the closure of indoor cinemas, will apply within the next week,” Etches said.

The red zone brings with it more restrictions on gatherings of all kinds.

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For restaurants and bars, indoor seating is limited to 10 patrons with tables separated by at least two metres. Liquor can only be sold until 9 p.m. and live music or dance performances are prohibited.

At gyms and fitness facilities, exercise classes are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors, and only 10 people can be in a weight room or exercise room at the same time. Hockey teams can practice but will not be allowed to play games or scrimmages. No contact is allowed in team or individual sports.

At hotels and convention centres, all meeting and event spaces are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. Face coverings are required except when eating and drinking, and only four people can sit together at the same table.

Retail stores also face new restrictions. Supermarkets and other grocery stores, pharmacies and convenience stores are limited to 75 per cent capacity. Other retail outlets, including big box stores, discount stores, hardware stores, liquor and cannabis stores, are restricted to 50 per cent capacity.

All stores must post a capacity limit for the public to view.

Theatres and cinemas are closed except for drive-ins. Performing arts facilities are also closed to the public, but rehearsals and events for broadcast can continue with certain restrictions.

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Etches said the red zone restrictions are necessary because “we have had too many situations where transmission has occurred due to people being in close contact without a mask.”

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