Province Declares State of Emergency in Response to COVID-19 Pandemic

As of Tuesday March 17, 2020, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. During a state of emergency, the province has the power to limit personal travel, order the closure of public and private buildings, and fix prices for goods.

Premier Ford announced that private schools, recreation centres, public libraries, and theatres throughout the province will be closed until at least March 31, 2020. Bars and restaurants will be limited to offering takeout and delivery. Premier Ford also ordered a ban on all public gatherings of 50 people or more. 

Public transit and other essential businesses including pharmacies, grocery stores, and manufacturing facilities will remain open. 

Employers who are not subject to the mandatory closures should continue to follow public health recommendations, as well as updates provided by municipal, provincial and federal government. See the Firm’s post here for more information on proposed legislative changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the government was careful to emphasize that “this is not a Provincial shutdown,” it can reasonably be anticipated that we will see further closures and impacts on public services and industry. We are continuing to monitor all workplace-related COVID-19 developments and will provide further updates as the situation progresses. For more information on how to respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19, please see the Firm’s post on COVID-19 in the Workplace