The province of Ontario has declared a state of emergency in response to COVID-19.
Premier Doug Ford outlined the nature of the order at an 8:30 a.m. press conference at Queen’s Park. Many of the steps that will now be formalized have already been recommended by various levels of government.
The first order is the prohibition of organized public events of over 50 people including parades, social gatherings, and at places of worship.
Ford also ordered that various establishments close immediately, including community centres, private schools, libraries, child care centres, bars and restaurants (with the exception of takeout and delivery services), and theatres (cinemas, concert halls) until March 31st.
“This order will come into effect immediately,” said the premier.
“This is not a provincial shut down,” he continued. “The vast majority of businesses will not be affected by this order.”
The following sectors that will continue to operate during the state of emergency: grocery stores, pharmacies, public services, office buildings, and construction sites.
“We must flatten the curve and stop COVID-19,” Ford said of the orders given today.
In addition to restrictions on public life, the premier revealed the first stage of an emergency relief package with $300 million committed to fighting COVID-19. This package includes measures to help seniors and the most vulnerable. The fund will support the following:
- 75 more critical beds
- 500 post acute beds
- 25 more COVID-19 assessment centres
- More resources to monitor and test for COVID-19
- Purchasing more protective gear for health and personal support workers
- More ventilators
- Provide funding to backfill 1000 nurses and personal support workers
- Funds for rural, remote, and northern communities
- Job security for families
- Support for businesses
The government will also take measures to support those that have lost jobs due to COVID-19 and to help businesses that have been forced to close. EI reforms will be amended immediately to help support those affected.