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Premier declares ‘state of emergency’; no gatherings of more than 50 people

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency in the province.

“We are facing an unprecedented time in our history,” said Ford this morning during a press conference at Queen’s Park. “This is a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions.”

The province will mandate closure of restaurants and bars and prohibit gatherings of more than 50 people. These orders were approved by the Lieutenant Governor in council and will remain in place until March 31, 2020, at which point they will be reassessed and considered for extension, unless this order is terminated earlier.

In a statement Monday evening, Ford and Health Minister Christine Elliott recommended the closure of all recreation programs, libraries, private schools, daycares, churches and other faith settings, as well as bars and restaurants, except those that offer take out or delivery.

Announcements of these closures have been made, and are being made, in the County.

“Of significance to our community is the immediate closure of restaurants and bars with the exception of take-out or delivery options,” said Mayor Steve Ferguson on Facebook this morning. “There will likely be more news later, but please support our hospitality businesses as you can in the coming days and weeks.”

The order does not yet apply to public transit, shopping malls, grocery stores and pharmacies.

He stressed the state of emergency does not constitute a ‘provincial shutdown’.

“The vast majority of businesses, including those most vital to day-to-day life, will not be affected,” he said. “Essential services and essential needs will be available to every individual and families.”

Updated figures are expected this morning, but there were 177 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ontario as of Monday night and five are considered resolved. Most are in the Greater Toronto area. There were 441 cases in Canada.

Declaring a state of emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act gives the premier power to close any public or private place, including any business, office, school, hospital or other establishment or institution.

Hospitals in British Columbia and Ontario have already begun to cancel elective surgeries – such as cataract and cosmetic surgeries – to free up hospital beds and medical staff. The Registered Nurses Association of Ontario has put out a call for additional registered nurses and nurse practitioners to make themselves available to help with Ontario’s telehealth program.

With funding  from Ontario’s previously-announced COVID-19 Contingency Fund, as well as funding provided by the federal government Ontario is investing up to $304 million to enhance the province’s response to COVID-19 by providing the following:

  • $100 million for increased capacity in hospitals to assist with the effective treatment of COVID-19 patients both in critical care and medicine beds.
  • $50 million for more testing and screening through public health, including additional funding to support extraordinary costs incurred to monitor, detect and contain COVID-19 in the province. This includes contact tracing, increased laboratory testing capacity and home testing.
  • $50 million to further protect frontline workers, first responders and patients by increasing the supply of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies and equipment to protect them.
  • $25 million to support frontline workers working in COVID-19 assessment centres, including the creation of a new fund to provide respite care, child care services and other supports as they are needed.
  • $50 million for long-term care homes; to support 24/7 screening, additional staffing to support infection control and additional supplies.
  • $20 million for residential facilities in developmental services, gender-based services and protective care for children and youth to support additional staffing, respite for caregivers impacted by school closures, personal protective equipment and supplies and transportation costs to minimize client exposure and to support social distancing, as well as additional cleaning costs.
  • $5 million to protect seniors in retirement homes through increased infection control and active screening procedures.
  • $4 million for Indigenous communities to support transportation costs for health care professionals and the distribution of critical supplies.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. Gary says:

    I agree. Biggest concern is returnees failing to self isolate. This will promote introduction of the Emergency Act, which could be a total shutdown and military enforcing self isolation. Should not be required if returnees were respectful to fellow Canadians.

  2. Michelle says:

    2500 dead in Italy. Do we get it?

  3. Mark says:

    I fail to understand why so many Canadians travelled knowing the dangers and returned with disease. All returnees even from the States need to stay at home and isolate for 14 days. It is common sense and caring for fellow Canadians.

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