Ontario premier declares state of emergency amid COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19/coronavirus update: March 17, 2020

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency in the province as it looks to combat the spread of COVID-19 and prevent coronavirus from overwhelming its health-care system.

“We’re facing an unprecedented time in our history. This is a decision that was not made lightly,” Ford said at a Tuesday morning news conference at Queen’s Park. He was joined by Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, Health Minister Christine Elliott, Finance Minister Rod Phillips and Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer.

As part of the declaration, the province will mandate the closure of restaurants and bars, though those that can offer takeout and delivery can continue selling food items.

The province is also prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people, including at indoor recreation centres, theatres and concert venues, libraries, places of worship, private schools and licensed daycares until March 31. Ontario previously ordered all publicly-funded schools to close until April 6.

The order does not yet apply to public transit, shopping malls, grocery stores and pharmacies, Williams said.