COVID-19 Update for March 17

This page was last updated at 1:30pm March 17th. For up-to-date information on the COVID-19 situation please visit: Ontario.ca/coronavirus

I know there are growing concerns about the outbreak of COVID-19 in our community. My colleagues and I have been working tirelessly to prioritize the health and well-being of all Ontarians. I want to assure you that our Government is continuing to monitor the situation and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic based on advice from our public health experts. We are prepared for a range of scenarios and will escalate our response as necessary.

Today, our Government declared a state of emergency in Ontario. The following will be required to close immediately until March 31, 2020:

  • Indoor recreation facilities
  • Public libraries
  • Child care facilities
  • Private schools
  • Theatres
  • Concert venues
  • All bars and restaurants, excepting those that provide takeout or delivery options

All organized public events of over 50 people are prohibited, including parades, events and communal services within places of worship.

Please click here to view a list of closed attractions and cancellations in Toronto.

The vast majority of businesses will not be affected by this order. Essential services and essential needs will be available to every individual and family such as grocery stores, convenience stores, pharmacies, manufacturing facilities, and public transit.

Our government has been in contact with our food producers and major suppliers and I want to assure you that plenty of food and supplies will continue to reach grocery stores.

Everyday actions can help prevent the spread of germs and combat COVID-19. Preventative measures against COVID-19 include:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based sanitizer.
  • Coughing and sneezing into your sleeve or into a tissue
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick and avoid large gatherings.
  • Staying home if you are sick and overall practice self-isolation when you can.

If you are feeling unwell and experiencing symptoms including:

  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing

Take a self-assessment test at https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus to help determine if you need to seek further care. Contact your local health care provider, Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 or your local public health unit. If you need emergency medical attention you should call 911 and mention your travel history and symptoms.

In order to provide enhanced access to screening and alleviate pressures on hospitals, a number of dedicated assessment centers will open in the next several days, at William Osler Health System – Peel Memorial site, The Ottawa Hospital, North York General Hospital, Mackenzie Health, Scarborough Health Network and Trillium Health Partners.

Based on strong guidance from Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and experts at the COVID-19 Command Table, the Ministry of Education has directed all publicly funded schools in Ontario to close for an additional two weeks following March break. This means that Ontario schools have been ordered to remain closed from March 14th – April 5th.

The Superior Court of Justice has cancelled jury panels for any upcoming criminal and civil trials. Anyone who has received a summons for jury duty for an upcoming trial, should not attend court.

On March 16th Premier Ford, joined by Minister McNaughton, Minister Elliott, Minister Phillips and Chief Medical Officer David Williams made an announcement regarding proposed draft legislation to protect workers during COVID-19. This legislation will protect workers who are currently taking or may need to take unpaid leave during self-isolation or quarantine periods, or for those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or daycare closures. 

Our Government stands shoulder to shoulder with employees and their families during this difficult and uncertain time. The resiliency of everyday people, supported by coordinated action from all levels of government, is the bedrock of Ontario and Canada. We are taking action to ensure readiness and a quick response to a range of outbreak scenarios.

I would like to especially recognize all employers, community partners, and frontline workers during this time of uncertainty. Thank you for your dedication, courage and hard work in fighting against this virus. We will get through this together.

Our Government has announced the first stage of the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Package, designating over $304 million dollars to: increase capacity in hospitals; provide more testing and screening through public health; further protect frontline workers, first responders and patients; support frontline workers; support long-term care homes; support residential facilities in development services, gender-based services and protective care for children and youth; protect seniors in retirement homes; and support Indigenous communities.

I encourage you to visit Ontario's website (Ontario.ca/coronavirus) to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19. The website is updated twice daily with real-time information, resources and advice.