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What Ontario’s COVID-19 State of Emergency Declaration Means for Burlington

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*Please see the statement I have released today in response to the Province of Ontario’s declaration of a State of Emergency.

Burlington, Ont. – March 17, 2020 — As of today, the Province of Ontario has declared a State of Emergency.

In a press conference earlier this morning, Premier Doug Ford made this announcement alongside the Minister of Health, Christine Elliott, the Minister of Finance, Rod Phillips, and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams. The full details of this announcement can be found here.

I applaud this decision. I know it was not made lightly and is based on the advice of top health experts. This action aligns with what we are seeing in other provinces and places around the world as we collectively work to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and flatten the curve of new cases. Doing so is an essential part of preventing our healthcare system from being overwhelmed and keeping as many people healthy as possible.

With today’s State of Emergency declaration, the Province has now required that the following establishments are legally required to close immediately:

  • All facilities providing indoor recreational programs;
  • All public libraries;
  • All private schools as defined in the Education Act;
  • All licensed child care centres;
  • All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery;
  • All theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies; and
  • Concert venues.

In an effort to maintain supply to the public of essential goods, the province is still allowing shopping malls, grocery stores, pharmacies and public transit to remain open for now. Employers can find advice on how to best prepare their workplace and keep their employees and customers healthy from the World Health Organization.

Further, all organized public events of over fifty people are also prohibited, including parades and events and communal services within places of worship. These orders were approved by the Lieutenant

Governor in Council and will remain in place until March 31, 2020, at which point they will be reassessed and considered for extension, unless this order is terminated earlier.

What does this mean for Burlington:

A number of our local churches, organizations and businesses voluntarily decided to close their doors ahead of this announcement to do their part. We applaud them and their choice to proactively put the health of customers and residents first.

We encourage residents to continue to support our local businesses by shopping online or buying a gift card where possible. This gives our businesses immediate cash flow in a challenging time, while giving you something to look forward to once we can safely gather together again.

We know this situation will cause hardship for many small business owners and, in partnership with Halton Region, we will be looking at tax relief options for those that will be impacted. Both the provincial and federal governments have also indicated they will be providing support to these businesses and more detail will follow in the days and weeks ahead.

In response to the rapidly changing situation, in discussions with our emergency personnel and senior staff, I have escalated our response to a Level 3 Emergency – Full Activation of our Emergency Control Group (ECG).

The decision to escalate to a Level 3 emergency allows the municipality to continue to operate under the Corporate Emergency Response Plan and activate its Continuity of Governance and Operations Plan. This will ensure the municipality can continue to allocate resources to critical and essential services and maintain ongoing situational awareness while mitigating ongoing impacts to our residents and ensuring the safety and wellness of our staff. The City will continue to align our emergency response strategies and actions to help meet the needs to the Region and Province

The overarching goals of the Emergency Control Group encompass:

  1. Keeping staff and the public safe, minimizing spread
  2. Maintaining essential services
  3. Building and maintaining strong awareness across staff and the public
  4. Providing for the overall management and coordination of support activities and consequence management issues
  5. Ensuring that response priorities are established, and that planning, and response activities are coordinated

Yesterday, the City of Burlington announced the closure or cancellation of a broad list of services, programs and public meetings, including city playgrounds. Essential services including Burlington Fire, Burlington Transit including Handi-Van, Halton Court Services, Traffic Services, Roads, Parks and Forestry Operations and Animal Control Services will continue to operate as needed to support urgent needs in our community. More detail is available in yesterday’s press release.

Our top priority remains the health and well-being of our residents. We are committed to keeping you informed in clear and timely manner and encourage you to stay updated via the City’s dedicated website. Additional information on all COVID-19 related matters can be found at the Halton Region website, the Ministry of Health of Ontario’s website, and the Federal Government’s website.

Please continue to follow the advice of healthcare experts by staying home whenever possible, avoiding crowds, maintaining a distance of 1m from others when in public, and washing your hands. Avoid hoarding essential supplies and take only what you need. Check in with friends and neighbours by phone, email or on social media. Stay healthy, stay calm, and be kind to one another.

— Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

PLEASE NOTE: To stay updated on what the City of Burlington is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages burlington.ca/coronavirus (and subscribe) and bit.ly/mayormeedwardCOVID19updates that will be updated as new information becomes available.

Helpful Resources for information on COVID-19 (coronavirus):

*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist

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