COVID-19 Special Updates – Getting Out and About Safely: Walking, Driving and Using Public Transportation
NOTE: After posting these COVID-19 special newsletters we will continue to add dated, topic related links at the bottom of these UPDATES.
In a sprawling city like Ottawa, getting around is important. We take for granted our ability to walk, bike, drive, or take public transportation when and where we want to go. In the midst of COVID-19 we can still get around, but it takes planning ahead and observing physical distancing rules.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Being Out in Public
Ottawa Public Health now recommends that all Ottawa residents over the age of 70 stay home and self-isolate to protect themselves. Unless you are ill, or are under self-isolation under the Quarantine Act, you can still go outside to take a walk or walk your dog. If you need groceries, go to the store and limit your time. For other ways to getting food, check out our food resource page. While outside, the rules are to avoid crowds and, whenever possible, to maintain at least a distance of 2 metres from people you do not live with.
Walking is an ideal activity to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle for all ages. We just need to follow some new rules.
- When walking on sidewalks, pathways, or footbridges make an effort to step aside or pass others quickly and courteously. A smile, wave, and hello are always welcomed.
- Enjoy the outdoors closer to home — on foot or by bike — rather than driving to a place further away.
- Keep your dog on a leash at all times, including in areas normally identified as off-leash dog areas and parks.
- Public parking lots, benches, play structures, gazebos, picnic areas, and outdoor community gardens are off limits until June 30.
- Walk with others from your own household only and do not gather in groups.
- Emerging information suggests walkers should distance themselves even further than 2 metres when passing joggers and bikers.
Driving – Behind the Wheel
Lower gas prices and no rush hour, what could be better? Well, as with other ways of getting around, there are new rules and precautions to keep in mind.
- Avoid non-essential trips in the community.
- Cut down on unnecessary trips by calling ahead to see if a store or service is open, or your order is ready for pick-up.
- Parking on roadways near parks is prohibited for people not living in the area.
- If you need to go to a COVID-19 Assessment Centre, take your own car, with no unnecessary passengers. If this is not possible, take a method of transport that minimizes exposure to other people such as a transportation service, taxi, or ride share.
Getting Rides from Others
If you rely on family members, taxis, ride shares, or other transportation services, or to get around or get deliveries, there are things you can do to be safe:
- When accepting a ride, sit in the back, on the passenger side. If possible roll your window down.
- Try not to share rides with other passengers.
- If you typically give a family member or friend rides to and from appointments, check with the Champlain Community Support Network COVID-19 Response Site for other transportation options, especially if you or the person you are giving a ride to fall into a high risk category.
- When calling for taxi or ride share ask about cleaning procedures, Plexiglas shields,and payment processes.
- Call the service provider responsible for your deliveries to find out how they are screening drivers and what precautions they are taking.
Using Public Transportation
OC Transpo and Para Transpo are vital city services for many older adults to access food, health care, and other supports and services. Following directives from Ottawa Public Health, OC Transpo and Para Transpo have enhanced cleaning of all vehicles, operational areas and maintenance facilities. Transit customers are asked to:
- Avoid public transit if you have a fever, new onset of cough, difficulty breathing or have been in close contact with a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.
- Cover your cough, sneeze with a tissue, or into your arm while you are in stations or riding buses or trains. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Board and exit using the back doors, unless you have accessibility and cooperative seating requirements.
- Not approach operators.
- Stagger commute times to help lessen passenger volume during peak periods.
- Maintain the two metre distance from other passengers whenever possible.
- Please note: Cash fares or paper transfers are not being accepted and in some buses you won’t be able to tap Presto cards when you board. As OC Transpo Customer Service Centres are closed, please check fare options online.
To further service clients who need accessible transportation, Para Transpo is:
- Offering single passenger trips as much as possible, including for dialysis patients. (Segregating all trips as much as possible and limiting shared rides to two clients, maximum.)
- Offering Para Pay payment option by phone 613-741-4390 or online. Please note: eligibility criteria have been expanded.
- In Para Transpo cars, limiting front seat options to clients who really need them. Clients will be asked to consider back seat or bus options as alternatives.
- Suspending the Presto card number validation process onboard Para vehicles. Drivers are simply noting when a client pays with Presto; eliminating physical contact with cards.
- Partnering with client homes, facilities and programs to cancel unnecessary travel.
- Working with Taxi contractor to ensure all Para Transpo changes are consistently applied and to ensure consistent cleaning methods continue and are updated, if necessary.
When planning a trip:
- Please note: Cash fares or paper transfers are not being accepted and in some buses you won’t be able to tap Presto cards when you board.
- As OC Transpo Customer Service Centres are closed, please check fare options online.
- Use OC Transpo Travel Tips for planning trips, waiting for, boarding, riding and exiting vehicles.
- To book a Para Transpo trip go to Para Transpo Bookings and Cancellations or call 613-244-7272. Online reservations will only be accepted up to 15:30 on the day before your trip.
We’re in this together!
Other Transportation News
July 22 : Ottawa Road Trips has created a listing of available washrooms in the Ottawa- Eastern Ontario -Outaouais area for when you’ve gotta go
On June 28, OC Transpo resumes normal service levels and create more space for customers on buses and trains.
More health and safety measures will be in place to prepare for increased ridership and normal seasonal service levels, including mandatory use of masks. Watch video
June 9: Excellent podcast on things to consider when planning for summer activities – attending weddings, going to the cottage, day camps, traveling and still minimizing risk of COVID transmission https://www.cbc.ca/listen/cbc-podcasts/410-the-dose.
May 3: Canadian Automobile Association suggests you Take your vehicle for a drive 30 minutes/week during pandemic