Parliament Hill and the Fairmont Chateau Laurier in Ottawa are seen during the winter in this undated photo. (Photo by Erik Mclean of Unsplash)

Ontario considers cancelling March Break for students; Ottawa's mayor is ready to reopen non-essential businesses; and bringing the Caribbean to an Ottawa backyard. looks at the five most viewed stories on our website this week.

Decision on March Break could come next week, Ontario education minister says

Ontario's education minister admitted this week that the Ontario government is looking at the possibility of cancelling March Break for tens of thousands of students.

Stephen Lecce told CTV Morning Live on Thursday that he expects to receive advice from chief medical officer of health Dr. David Williams next week on whether to proceed with the week off for students and teachers.

"My decision point is going to be made exclusively on medical advice. If they believe that cancelling the break to disincentive travel is in the best interest of public health, I'm going to follow that advice full stop," said Lecce Thursday morning.

Both the Elementary Teachers' Federation of Ontario and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers' Federation called on the government to proceed with the week off from March 15 to 19.

"ETFO strongly opposes any change to the 2021 March Break. We are living in unprecedented times that continue to create high levels of stress, fear and anxiety for everyone," said ETFO President Sam Hammond in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

"We have heard repeatedly that students, families and educators need a break right now. Their mental health and well-being must be the first consideration. "

Here's a look at the new lockdown rules in Gatineau

Non-essential businesses, hair salons and museums will be allowed to reopen in Gatineau and across Quebec on Monday, as the province eases some of the COVID-19 restrictions.

Premier François Legault announced on Tuesday that with new cases of COVID-19 and hospitalizations linked to the virus declining, the province would ease some of the restrictions.

Businesses will be allowed to reopen, but restaurants must still offer only takeout and delivery.

The 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew will remain effect for Gatineau and the Outaouais.

Mayor supports reopening non-essential businesses, restaurants in Ottawa

With the current stay-at-home order set to expire next week, Mayor Jim Watson says Ottawa is ready to reopen restaurants, gyms and other non-essential businesses.

During an interview on Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron, Watson was asked if Ottawa is ready to reopen non-essential businesses next week when the stay-at-home order and state of emergency end.

"The numbers certainly indicate that. I think we're probably doing the best of any large city in Ontario. None of us are out of the woods, but I think we're in much better shape and that's why Council unanimously asked me to write to the premier to say, 'If you're going to allow the big box stores to stay open with 25 per cent capacity, please allow the other small retailers to do the same thing,'" said Watson.

The Ontario government implemented a lockdown in Ottawa and across southern Ontario on Dec. 26. Ontario declared a state of emergency on Jan. 12, and introduced a stay-at-home order on Jan. 14.

Premier Doug Ford met with his cabinet on Friday to discuss whether to relax some of the current COVID-19 restrictions. Sources tell CTV News Toronto that Ford's cabinet was urged by public health officials to extend the stay-at-home order until Feb. 16 across most of the province, while extending it two weeks in Toronto, Peel Region and York Region.

Ottawa snowbirds weighing when to come home in face of new quarantine rules

Ottawa snowbirds spent the week weighing whether to come home as both Ontario and the federal government implemented new travel rules during the pandemic.

Starting Monday, Ontario is requiring all international travellers to take a COVID-19 test upon landing in Toronto. The federal government's new rules would require passengers take a COVID-19 test upon returning to Canada and quarantine up to three days in an approved hotel at their own expense.

Ottawa's Lucie Masson is deciding between coming home soon and facing the added cost of quarantining or waiting it out.

“Our flight is scheduled for the middle of April but we will probably delay to see if these restrictions will be lifted or made more reasonable,” says Masson.

Ottawa couple recreates cancelled Caribbean cruise in their own backyard

When COVID-19 cancelled their winter cruise, an Ottawa couple found a creative way to visit the Caribbean from the comfort of their home.

Rob and Lorraine Rathwell booked their western Caribbean cruise 18 months ago but could not go because of COVID-19.

Instead, they brought the cruise to their house and made a fun-in-the-sun journey to the four corners of their yard, posting the weeklong adventure on social media.

Their house, the ship, the backyard became their vacation destinations. They followed the original itinerary and 'travelled' to Belize, Cozumel, Roatan and Grand Caymans. 

"This was about us having some fun and making the best out of a situation," says Rob. "Everyday for a couple hours a day it was just like it used to be and that was fun."