State of Emergency in Ontario extended

Doug Ford and the team

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has extended the provincial state of emergency by two weeks

The state of emergency, declared on March 17, had been set to expire Tuesday. The declaration, along with other emergency orders announced by the province, will now be in place until April 13.

In a news release on Monday night, Ford announced a new emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. The order closes all outdoor recreational amenities, such as sports fields and playgrounds, effective immediately.

He said the extension of the declared emergency and the new emergency order are based on the advice of Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s chief medical officer of health.

According to the news release, the new order closes all communal or shared, public or private, outdoor recreational amenities in Ontario. These include playgrounds, sports fields, basketball and tennis courts, off-leash dog parks, beaches, skateboard and BMX parks, picnic areas, outdoor community gardens, park shelters, outdoor exercise equipment, condo parks and gardens, and other outdoor recreational amenities.

 Green spaces in parks, trails, ravines and conservation areas that aren’t closed are to remain open for people to walk through, but people must maintain a distance of at least two metres apart. Ontario’s provincial parks and conservation reserves remain closed.

“I made a commitment to be open and upfront about what we need to do as a province to beat this virus,” Ford said.

“We all need to work together and do our part to stop COVID-19 by staying home, practising physical distancing, and avoiding social gatherings.”

Ford, who spoke at a news conference Monday afternoon, said the province is now advising anyone over the age of 70, or anyone with an underlying health condition, to stay home and self isolate.

Ford said measures have to be ramped up in the face of increasing numbers of cases.

“We need to protect them,” he said.

Ford has pleaded with Ontario residents to stay home and practice physical distancing. He said some streets and parts of Toronto, especially by Lake Ontario, were “packed” on Sunday, and that is “unacceptable.”

He warned that government is “prepared to take further action” if the spread of the virus doesn’t slow down. When asked if a mandatory stay home order was on the table, the premier said that he will take direction from provincial medical experts.

Ford told reporters that the provincial government will assess every two weeks whether the state of emergency should be extended.

“It goes two weeks at a time,” Ford told reporters on Monday.

Provincial health officials  announced 10 more deaths on Monday afternoon, bringing the total to 33. The province says 431 cases are resolved.

Six people have died in Toronto from the virus.