Premier Doug Ford has officially declared a state of emergency in Ontario in a move to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Ford announced during a meeting on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, that his latest order would shutdown organized public events over 50 people, including places of worship. These shutdowns will last until March 31.
The sweeping order will see the immediate closures of several facilities including libraries, private schools, childcare centres, bars and restaurants, theatres, cinemas, and concert venues. However, restaurants and fast-food locations that offer take-out or delivery will remain open.
Ford also made it clear that the move is not a provincial shut down. Ontarians will still be able to access essentials like grocery stores, pharmacies, manufacturing facilities, and transit. Office buildings will also be able to remain open during the pandemic.
"It is imperative we protect every person and every family across this province ... The government must be in a position to take any and all actions necessary, that is why today, Ontario has declared a state of emergency," Ford said during a press conference on Tuesday morning.
"This decision was not made lightly... I want to urge calm across the province... By declaring a state of emergency, our province will be in the position to act as fast and decisively as needed ... this is changing hour by hour, day by day, and we're getting ahead of the curve," he added.
The provincial government warned Ontarians that the new measures could have a significant impact on their lives.
However, health care officials insist that the province must take “decisive action” to protect the health and safety of the public.
Ford concluded that the situation is being closely monitored and that his government is prepared to act quickly to any scenario that may develop.
“We are prepared to continue to respond quickly and effectively to any scenario to keep Ontarians safe,” he noted.
It was reported on Monday morning that Canada’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 had jumped to 424.
In response, Trudeau announced on Monday that the Government of Canada would be closing the nation's borders to international travellers.