According to the capital’s health agency, some people are still looking for “loopholes” when it comes to social distancing in Ottawa. On Tuesday, the Associate Medical Officer of Health said that some residents continue to cheat the rules, and are finding ways to socialize with friends, family and neighbours. He reiterated, “We are in the middle of a pandemic.”

Despite repeated calls for Ottawans to practice appropriate social and physical distancing, the city’s health experts say some people continue to find “loopholes” within the rules.

In a teleconference on Tuesday, Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brent Moloughney explained that Ottawa Public Health continues to receive inquiries about what is and isn't acceptable when it comes to social distancing.

"People are asking, 'Can I have a beer with my neighbours if we sit six feet apart?' or 'Can I visit my friend's house if we stay outside and keep a distance of six feet or more?' he explained. 

The short answer, Dr. Moloughney says, is no.

“Be it in your driveway, or in your yard, our main message is stay home,” he said.

This includes drinking with your friends outside, socializing with neighbours across the garden or driveway, and walking with people who aren't from the same home.

Moloughney continued, “We are in the middle of a pandemic and so only make essential trips outside the home, and limit your contacts to members of your household.”

The Ontario Government has prohibited gatherings of groups of five or more, and has strongly recommended against socializing with anybody other than your household. Even if this is six feet away, and outdoors.

Dr. Moloughney explained that social gatherings can often start with two or three friends walking together, or neighbours having a beer while two metres apart, but this can escalate.

"It kind of starts with that, and then a couple more people add on, and then before you know it, you have a parking lot party or a backyard party," he said.

A similar message came from health experts and police earlier this week, when they urged Canadians to avoid going for a drive, even if they don’t intend to get out of the car.

“It's too easy for a drive to turn into a stop,” explained Bill Dickson, a spokesperson for the Ontario Provincial Police.

Ottawa bylaw officers continue to issue fines and monitor public places, as some people in the city host parties, attend garage sales and even go to the gym.

As of Wednesday, the capital had 643 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 13 people have died.

*This article's cover image is for illustrative purposes only.

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