Province declares emergency, orders closure of bars, restaurants, theatres and more

WELLINGTON COUNTY – A danger of major proportions. Unprecedented times. Extraordinary measures. Uncharted territory.

Those are a few of the phrases used within the last week to describe COVID-19 and the reactions, locally and globally, to the pandemic.

On March 17, just five days after announcing all schools in the province would be closed for three weeks due to the coronavirus, Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario.

“We are facing an unprecedented time in our history,” said Ford.

“This is a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions.

“We are taking this extraordinary measure because we must offer our full support and every power possible to help our health care sector fight the spread of COVID-19. The health and wellbeing of every Ontarian must be our number one priority.”

The declaration and associated orders forced the immediate closure province-wide of:

– indoor recreation facilities;

– public libraries;

– private schools;

– licensed child care centres;

– bars and restaurants (excluding takeout and delivery); and

– theatres, cinemas and concert venues.

The province has prohibited all organized public gatherings of over 50 people, including parades and church services.  The closures and prohibitions will be in place until at least March 31.

Wellington County municipalities had, in the previous several days, announced the closure of many of the public facilities covered by Ford’s March 17 announcement.

The closures include all lower-tier municipal offices, recreational facilities and all libraries across the county.

“The health and safety of our residents and our staff remains our top priority,” said Warden Kelly Linton in a March 16 press release.

The situation has been changing by the hour, as officials try to react appropriately to the latest news and recommendations from health officials.

As of the morning of March 17, there were 180 confirmed cases in Ontario, with five recoveries and close to 1,600 people under investigation.

On March 16 Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health (WDGPH) confirmed its first case of COVID-19. A man in his 40s tested positive at Headwaters Health Care Centre in Orangeville after returning from Atlanta, Georgia. He is now in self-isolation at home.

On March 16 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Canada is shutting its borders to non-Canadians, with limited exceptions, to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Trudeau also announced other measures to help Canadians and urged all citizens still aborad to return home immediately.

On March 17 Ford also announced up to $304 million to enhance the province’s response to COVID-19. It included:

– $100 million for increased capacity in hospitals;

– $50 million for more testing and screening through public health;

– $50 million to protect frontline workers, first responders and patients by increasing the supply of personal protective equipment and other supplies and equipment;

– $25 million to support frontline workers working in COVID-19 assessment centre;

  $50 million for long-term care homes to support 24/7 screening, additional staffing to support infection control and additional supplies; and

– $20 million for residential facilities in developmental services, gender-based services and protective care for children and youth.

For COVID-19 health information visit For the latest local news on COVID-19 visit our COVID-19 tab on this website or follow us on Twitter @wellyadvertiser.