Things on the Rock are about to get a bit harder. The spread of COVID-19 in Canada has led provinces to take strict measures. Newfoundland is now among them, and its new rules are some of the strictest out there.

The province's health minister, John Haggie, announced on March 18 that businesses including gyms, movie theatres, bars, and arenas would be ordered to close immediately.

Restaurants must operate at half capacity, and only if they can meet social distancing suggestions within their spaces. Takeout and delivery will still be allowed.

Events with 50 or more people will not be allowed during this time, and anyone returning from another country, including the United States, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

All of these new regulations come with steep penalties. Anyone that doesn't comply with these rules could face a $2500 fine or possibly even six months in prison.

The financial penalty for corporations is even higher, with fines of up to $50,000. The directors of those companies could also face individual penalties.

This marks the first time in history that Newfoundland has ever declared a public health emergency.

"These measures are put in place not because our situation has deteriorated but, after careful consideration, we feel this is the best way to protect the health of our population and reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19," Newfoundland's chief medical officer of health, Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, said at a press conference, according to CBC News.

These new rules and regulations fall under the province's Public Health and Promotion Act, passed in 2018.

Section 13 of that act states that rights and freedoms can be restricted to a reasonable degree "to respond to a communicable disease, health hazard, public health emergency or contravention of this Act, the regulations or an order made under this Act or the regulations."

As of 9:00 p.m. Eastern on March 18, Newfoundland had three presumptive cases of COVID-19. Across Canada, there are now 690 confirmed cases.

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