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Ontario declares state of emergency amid coronavirus pandemic

Last Updated Mar 17, 2020 at 2:32 pm EDT

Premier Doug Ford is declaring a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

He says this is an unprecedented time in our history and this decision was not made lightly.

Ford says the order bans public events of over 50 people, including parades, events and services within places of worship until March 31.

Effective immediately, the province has ordered the closure of all facilities providing indoor recreation programs, all public libraries, all private schools, all licensed childcare centres, all theatres, cinemas and concert venues, and all bars and restaurants except to provide takeout food and delivery.

At this point, shopping malls are not included. Many retailers have made the decision to shut down anyways.

Ford says this is not a provincial shut down and the majority businesses won’t be affected by the order.

Essential services such as grocery stores, pharmacies and public transit will continue to operate.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said in a statement he was fully supportive of the state of emergency declaration and thanked the province for taking decisive action.

“I hope the seriousness of this declaration will make it clear to every resident how important their personal actions will be in the coming days,” read Tory’s statement. “We will continue to follow the advice of our public health professionals to make sure we are doing everything possible to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and protect our residents and our city.”

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown called the state of emergency “the right call,” but urged the government to include shopping malls in the list of closures.

Ford also announced $300 million to help support healthcare workers and services across Ontario to help those most vulnerable. It will fund at least 75 more critical hospital beds, 500 post-acute beds and at least 25 more assessment centres.

Watch the premier’s full announcement below.

As for when he thinks Ontarians will be able to get back to normal life, Ford said he’s going to be looking to the Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams for guidance and they’re doing what they can to flatten the curve.

When asked why wasn’t this done earlier than today, Dr. Williams said “We were in consultation with our federal counterparts … things have been changing very fluidly.” and they are trying to be consistent with counter parts in other provinces.

Ford said, “This is changing hour-by-hour, day-by-day.”

The Premier also promised small businesses, freelance workers and independent artists will not be forgotten, but the federal government must also provide resources.

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