Premier Doug Ford bans public events of over 50 people
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ford made the announcement Tuesday morning with the province’s Health Minister Christine Elliott, Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones and Finance Minister Rod Phillips and Ontario’s chief medical officer Dr. David Williams.
“This is a decision not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions,” the premier said at Queen’s Park on Tuesday.
“We’ve taken this measure because we must offer our full support in every power possible to help our health-care sector fight the spread of COVID-19,” he added.
The new order bans public events of over 50 people, including events, parades and services within places of worship, until March 31.
The province has directed the closure of facilities providing indoor recreation programs, public libraries, private schools, childcare centres, theatres, concert venues and all bars and restaurants, except to offer takeout and delivery services.
Ford noted the majority of Ontario businesses will not be affected by the order, and that essential business such as grocery stores will continue to operate.
The Ontario Emergency Management Act classifies an emergency as a situation or impending situation that constitutes a danger that could result in “serious harm to persons or substantial damage to property,” and can be caused by nature, a disease or health risk, or “an accident or act whether intentional or otherwise.”
According to the act, the state of emergency can last for a maximum of 14 days, but can be extended.
During this time, the premier can close down public and private buildings, impose travel restrictions, and fix the prices of certain goods.
Ford also announced a $300-million relief fund Tuesday. The fund is intended to finance care beds for acute and critical cases, response centres, protective equipment and adding more care providers to help curb the outbreak.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in an announcement soon after that Ontario is “taking the right steps” in declaring a state of emergency.
The prime minister stated he wanted to ease the burden on front line workers, such as health-care providers and urged Canadians to “stay home.”
“Things will get better,” Trudeau added.
Trudeau also announced that on Wednesday, Parks Canada will suspend all visitor services to national parks and heritage sites as a measure to protect Canadians’ health.
Global Affairs Canada has also set up an emergency loan program that will provide up to $5,000 for Canadians looking to come home.
Yesterday, the federal government also banned travel to Canada for non-citizens and non-permanent residents.
Tomorrow, the prime minister will make another announcement regarding the Canadian economy and easing tax measures for Canadians.
As of Tuesday morning, there are 177 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Ontario, and 441 in Canada.
Across the country, 12 patients have recovered from the illness. There are five reported deaths from the virus, which includes the death of a 77-year-old man in Ontario, reported at noon on Tuesday.