Ontario declares state of emergency amid coronavirus outbreak

Mar 17 2020, 5:32 am

Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency for Ontario amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a decision that was not made lightly,” said Ford. “We are facing an unprecedented time in our history.”

While it was recommended by Toronto Public Health on Monday, Ontario has prohibited public events of over 50 people, and now mandated the closure of restaurants and bars until March 31. Restaurants can still provide take out.

Additionally, as a result of this declaration and its associated orders, the following establishments will be legally required to close immediately:

  • All facilities providing indoor recreational programs;
  • All public libraries;
  • All private schools as defined in the Education Act;
  • All licensed child care centres;
  • All theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies, and concert venues.

This comes into effect immediately, and the province will reassess the situation following the two-week state of emergency.

“This is not a provincial shut down,” Ford said. “I repeat, this is not a provincial shut down.”

“We must not delay as COVID-19 continues to spread, the government must take all the actions necessary,” he said.

Ford urged calm across the province, adding there is no level of support they won’t consider.

He said the province has been preparing for every scenario.

“We are taking the steps necessary to protect you and your loved ones. We are taking this step now while our system remains strong,” said the Premier. “By declaring a state of emergency our province will be in the position to act as fast as needed”

Ontario said it will invest up to $304 million to enhance its response to the coronavirus by providing $100 million for increased capacity in hospitals, $50 million for more testing and screening through public health, $50 million to further protect frontline workers, first responders and patients, $25 million to support frontline workers, $50 million for long term care homes, $20 million for residential facilities and protective care for children and youth, $5 million for seniors in retirement homes, and $4 million for Indigenous communities.

The increased funding includes investments from Ontario’s previously-announced COVID-19 Contingency Fund, as well as funding provided by the federal government.

“We must flatten the curve and help stop the curve of COVID-19,” Ford said. “We must come together as a province.”

As of Monday, there were 177 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Ontario, five of which are resolved.