Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford declared a State of Emergency in the province Tuesday morning (March 17) in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
“We are facing an unprecedented time in our history,” said Premier Ford. “This is a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions. We are taking this extraordinary measure because we must offer our full support and every power possible to help our health care sector fight the spread of COVID-19. The health and wellbeing of every Ontarian must be our number one priority.”
As of March 16, there were 177 confirmed positive cases of the virus in Ontario, although five of these are classified as resolved.
The State of Emergency is slated to last until March 31 and calls for the immediate closure of a variety of institutions as well as the prohibition of public gatherings of 50 people or more.
“This is not a provincial shut down. The vast majority of businesses, including those most vital for day-to-day life will not be affected by this order. Essential services and essential needs will be available to every individual and families,” he continued.
The Premier has ordered the closure of facilities providing recreational programs , libraries, private schools, licensed child care centres, bars and restaurants (takeout and delivery permitted) as well as theatres, cinemas and concert venues.
“Right now we need to do everything possible to slow the spread of COVID-19 in order to avoid overwhelming our healthcare system,” said Ford.
“The health and well-being of every Ontarian must be our number one priority.”
Ford says the Province is relying in large part on the people of Ontario, the communities across the province, to help slow the spread of the virus.
“We just want to make sure that we have social distancing to the best of our ability, with cooperation from the public. I think the public is well-aware of the situation and I’m proud of how they’ve been handling this. I’m very, very grateful to the people of Ontario,” he said.
The Premier also announced the first step in a relief package, including more than $300 million in funding to support increasing the number of critical care beds, post-acute care beds, and COVID-19 assessment centres. Funding will also support providing more resources for testing as well as medical supplies such as masks and ventilators.
“We will spare no expense to support Ontarians,” said Ford.
The Province is also working with the Federal government to establish loan programs to support businesses and is asking for the immediate reform of Employment Insurance to support workers impacted by this order.
“I’ve directed our Cabinet to look at all options necessary to support workers and businesses,” noted the Premier.
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