Ottawa Public Health would like to thank you for your ongoing commitment to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community. Community transmission can happen easily when our guard is let down. As such, attending community events and gatherings in a Social Wise manner will help to control the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
Transmission has been linked to both enclosed spaces and outdoor events. Generally, outdoor events and gatherings are a safer option than indoor events. However, you can still catch the virus outdoors and the virus survives better when temperatures are colder and when there is less sunlight.
Some risk can be mitigated by following basic public health measures. For residents who may be considering attending a special event, OPH recommends the following:
- Stay home if you have symptoms, even if they are mild. Get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate.
- Maintain two metres of physical distancing from anyone you do not live with and limit close contact to members of your household. \Wear a mask indoors and wear one outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained or a mask required.
- Wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer frequently and always before touching your face or mask.
When gathering outdoors with people from multiple households who are unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or vaccination status is unknown, you should wear a mask if physical distancing cannot be maintained.
Older adults and people who have serious underlying medical conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic lung disease, chronic liver disease, cancer, or immunocompromising conditions or treatments) are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We should all consider our risks as well as the risks of those in our household prior to participating in events in case you were to bring COVID-19 home.
While many older adults will likely have been vaccinated, vaccine effectiveness is lower in older age groups, and COVID-19 variants of concern can also impact the effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccines; vaccination can still leave 5% to 15% (or more) people unprotected from severe illness depending on age group and underlying medical conditions.
Public health measures, like screening and masking, help to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, but do not eliminate it. Screening can miss up to half of infected individuals, and the effectiveness of masks that people wear is variable because of mask type, fit, and how correctly people wear them.
For indoor gatherings, the type and level of ventilation can vary greatly from one facility to another. The longer a person remains in a shared airspace with someone who may be shedding the virus, the higher the chance of contracting the virus. The risk that someone who is infected with COVID-19 is present increases as the number of people increases.
Information for Event Organizers:
Ottawa Public Health recently released a new Special Event Toolkit. This toolkit can support event organizers to implement safe special events of any size, that are permissible under the Provincial Regulations. Please note that permissions will vary depending on where the event or gathering takes place. Ottawa Public Health also encourages event organizers to consult the toolkit and to use the included resources, such as the Operational Guidance Document and the Safety Plan Checklist when preparing for your special event.
Please note that Ottawa Public Health does not review or approve event safety plans. It is the responsibility of the event organizer to ensure that the necessary control measures are in place to help protect people attending the event.