Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency as the province tries to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We’re facing an unprecedented time in our history. This is a decision that was not made lightly,” Ford said at a Tuesday morning news conference at Queen’s Park. He was joined by Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, Health Minister Christine Elliott, Finance Minister Rod Phillips and Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer.
“COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions,” he continued. “We must act decisively, we must not delay.”
As part of the declaration, the province will mandate the closure of restaurants and bars, though those that can offer takeout and delivery can continue selling food items.
Ford says the order bans public events of over 50 people, including parades, events and services within places of worship until March 31.
Effective immediately, the province has ordered the closure of all facilities providing indoor recreation programs, all public libraries, all private schools, all licensed childcare centres, all theatres, cinemas and concert venues, and all bars and restaurants except to provide takeout food and delivery.
The order does not yet apply to public transit, shopping malls, grocery stores and pharmacies, Williams said.
As of Monday evening, there were 177 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario, though five are considered resolved. Cases are spread geographically throughout the province, though the majority are concentrated in the Greater Toronto Area.
Updated figures are expected to be released around 10:30 a.m.