Ontario is officially banning social gatherings of more than five people effective immediately.
According to the province, stronger action was required to stop the spread of COVID-19, and to protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians.
The province’s new ban is based advice from Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, and the new emergency order is under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
The new order, which was introduced on Saturday night, would not apply to private households with five people or more.
Additionally, it would also “not apply to operating child care centres supporting frontline health care workers and first responders provided the number of persons at each centre does not exceed 50 people.”
Funerals would be permitted to proceed with up to ten people at one time.
“If we are going to stop the spread of COVID-19 now and keep our communities safe, we need to take extraordinary measures to ensure physical distancing,” said Premier Doug Ford in a statement.
“I strongly encourage everyone to do the responsible thing and stay home unless absolutely necessary. I can assure everyone that we will do everything in our power to stop this virus in its tracks.”
The new order replaces a previous emergency order which prohibits organized public events of over 50 people.
Ontario declared a provincial state of emergency on March 17 and has issued orders to close non-essential workplaces, recreational programs, libraries, publicly funded schools, private schools, daycares, provincial parks, churches and other faith settings, as well as bars and restaurants, except those that may only offer takeout or delivery.
Essential services, such as grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, public transit, manufacturing facilities, and supply chain companies remain open and operational.
The LCBO also remains open, with reduced hours.
As of March 28, there were 1,117 known COVID-19 cases in Ontario.