COVID-19 Special Updates – Getting Out and About Safely: Walking, Driving and Using Public Transportation

Apr 20, 2020 | CV19, Impact Updates, INFO-FLASH News archive, 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.

Further details on rules and restrictions from the City of Ottawa and the National Capital Commission.

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. 
  • 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. 

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. 
  •  Use OC Transpo Travel Tips for planning trips, waiting for, boarding, riding and exiting vehicles.

Please share your ideas with us and we will add them to our Facebook page or our Special COVID-19 Update website.  

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

June 28:

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

May 14: Closure of a section of the Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway (NCC)

May 6: City permits limited use of spaces in City parks

May 5: OC Transpo asks riders to consider wearing non-medical masks (CTV)

May 3: Canadian Automobile Association suggests you Take your vehicle for a drive 30 minutes/week during pandemic

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