Ontario declares a state of emergency over COVID-19
Premier Doug Ford has formally declared a state of emergency within Ontario to slow the spread of COVID-19 amidst a global pandemic outbreak.
"We're facing an unprecedented time in our history," said Ford to reporters during a press conference at Queen's Park around 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday morning after declaring a state of emergency
"This is a decision that was not made lightly," he continued. "COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions."
A number of new orders were issued by Ford this morning in an effort to slow the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus, all of them based on the advice of Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams, and all of them effective immediately.
"The first order under this declaration will be the prohibition of organized public events of over 50 people," stated Ford, noting that this applies to parades, events and places of worship until March 31.
All public libraries, private schools, childcare centres, recreational facilities, theatres, cinemas and concert venues have been ordered to shut down immediately for at least two weeks.
Bars and restaurants have also been ordered to close except to the extent that they can provide takeout and delivery services.
Ford was careful to make clear that "this is not a provincial shutdown" and that essential services will remain "available to every individual and family."
Grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, some private offices and even construction sites are set to remain open at this time.
Despite the state of emergency, grocery stores, pharmacies and a number of other businesses will stay open. Premier Doug Ford lists them all in this video #cdnpoli #onpoli https://t.co/Gki8nayOVf pic.twitter.com/spwM4PHvQ2— Mackenzie Gray (@Gray_Mackenzie) March 17, 2020
The Premier also announced a significant $300 million financial investment into the fight against COVID-19 and urged the federal government to follow suit with a loan program and immediate EI reforms.
These newly-dedicated provincial funds were described as one of several "immediate measures to protect the health of Ontarians" and "the first stage of a larger emergency relief package."
This first round of money will ensure more hospital beds, front-line workers and at least 25 new COVID-19 assessment centres across the province.
"I want to assure the people of Ontario that the government is taking every step possible to flatten the curve," said Ford during this morning's press conference.
"We need to do everything possible to slow the spread of cover-19 to avoid overwhelming out health care system. The health and well being of every Ontarian must be our number one priority."
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