Ontario declares state of emergency; closures ordered

An empty paper products aisle at the Cornwall Walmart on Saturday, March 14, 2020. Premier Doug Ford has declared a state of emergency. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

TORONTO – The Ontario government has declared a state of emergency as it deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Joined by Health Minister Christine Elliott, Finance Minister Rod Phillips and Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, Premier Doug Ford made the announcement at Queen’s Park this morning (Tuesday).

Ford said repeatedly that they didn’t make the decision lightly.

The state of emergency will be for two weeks.

Previously, the province had made a recommendation for non-essential services like bars and restaurants to close. Now, that’s an order.

That includes indoor recreation programs, libraries, all private schools, all licensed childcare centers, all theaters, cinemas and concert venues, all bars and restaurants.

The exception for restaurants is take-out and delivery.

Essential services, like grocery stores, will continue to be open. Ford added that manufacturing facilities – many with more than 50 people – are staying open because it was “absolutely critical” to keep the supply chain going.

The declaration means public gatherings of more than 50 people are also banned.

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