O-Town’s top doctor has a reassuring message for the City. During a presentation to Council, she confirmed that the new outbreaks of COVID-19 in Ottawa are not linked to popular hangout spots, such as bars and gyms. Instead, household transmission has become the biggest risk factor.

While new cases continue to be diagnosed daily in Ottawa, the City’s Medical Officer of Health has assured locals that public spaces are not to blame.

Speaking to Council on Wednesday, Dr. Vera Etches confirmed that Ottawa Public Health has found no outbreaks linked to bars, restaurants, gyms or public transport in the City.

A much bigger concern, Etches said, has been close household contact with people who have COVID-19.

Speaking about the risk of transmission, Dr. Etches explained, “I think on a whole, is where people come within two metres of others without masks being used." 

"We are not seeing outbreaks in settings where people are wearing masks," she added.

The doctor explained that because “this virus isn’t visible,” Ottawans are accidentally exposing their whole household to COVID-19 before they even realize they have it.

“People can be infectious 48 hours before they're sick,” she said.

"What we have not seen, is we have not found an outbreak in a restaurant, we have not found an outbreak in a bar," she said.

While there was one case related to an employee in a gym, the doctor added that there has been no outbreaks in Ottawa gyms.

Officials have not linked COVID-19 transmission to OC Transpo riders, either, said Etches.

Despite these findings, the medical officer doesn’t want Ottawans to let their guard down while out and about in public.

These spaces are still "high risk settings" for transmission, Dr. Etches added.

Earlier this week, Ottawa City Council voted unanimously to make masks mandatory in all public spaces inside apartments and condos.

The existing mandatory mask bylaw was also extended until October 31, as part of the new legislation.

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