Federation of Ontario Public Libraries

UPDATE: This morning the province of Ontario declared a provincial state of emergency.  Closures are now MANDATORY.
News Release

Ontario Enacts Declaration of Emergency to Protect the Public

Significantly Enhanced Measures will Help Contain Spread of COVID-19

Office of the Premier

TORONTO – Today, the Government of Ontario announced that it is taking decisive action by making an order declaring an emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. In doing so, Ontario is using every power possible to continue to protect the health and safety of all individuals and families.

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

As a result of this declaration and its associated orders, 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.

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.

“We are acting on the best advice of our Chief Medical Officer of Health and other leading public health officials across the province,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “We know these measures will affect people’s every day lives, but they are necessary to ensure that we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our people. We’re working with all partners across the system, from public health to hospitals and community care, to do everything we can to contain this virus and ensure that the system is prepared to respond to any scenario.”

“Our government is taking an important step to protect Ontarians by declaring a provincial emergency through the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, establishing Ontario’s ability to quickly implement and enforce orders in the public interest,” said Solicitor General Jones. “Our government will continue to respond to this outbreak by limiting the exposure of individuals to COVID-19 and ensure the health and well-being of all Ontarians.”

Ontario is also investing up to $304 million to enhance the province’s response to COVID-19 by providing the following:

  • $100 million for increased capacity in hospitals to assist with the effective treatment of COVID-19 patients both in critical care and medicine beds.
  • $50 million for more testing and screening through public health, including additional funding to support extraordinary costs incurred to monitor, detect and contain COVID-19 in the province. This includes contact tracing, increased laboratory testing capacity and home testing.
  • $50 million to further protect frontline workers, first responders and patients by increasing the supply of personal protective equipment and other critical supplies and equipment to protect them.
  • $25 million to support frontline workers working in COVID-19 assessment centres, including the creation of a new fund to provide respite care, child care services and other supports as they are needed.
  • $50 million for long-term care homes to support 24/7 screening, additional staffing to support infection control and additional supplies.
  • $20 million for residential facilities in developmental services, gender-based services and protective care for children and youth to support additional staffing, respite for caregivers impacted by school closures, personal protective equipment and supplies and transportation costs to minimize client exposure and to support social distancing, as well as additional cleaning costs.
  • $5 million to protect seniors in retirement homes through increased infection control and active screening procedures.
  • $4 million for Indigenous communities to support transportation costs for health care professionals and the distribution of critical supplies.

Quick Facts

  • The increased funding includes investments from Ontario’s previously-announced COVID-19 Contingency Fund, as well as funding provided by the federal government.
  • Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory infections like bronchitis, pneumonia or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
  • There is no vaccine available to protect against the 2019 novel coronavirus, but there are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses. To find out more visit Ontario’s website.

Additional Resources

  • Visit Ontario’s website to learn more about how the province continues to protect Ontarians from COVID-19.
  • Learn about travel advisories related to the 2019 novel coronavirus.
  • If you are a health care professional, learn how to protect yourself and your patients by reading our guidance documents.
  • For public inquiries call ServiceOntario, INFOline at 1-866-532-3161 (Toll-free in Ontario only)

Media Contacts

 

March 16 – see update above: Chief Medical officer of health is now recommending the closure of all public libraries in Ontario.

“I am strongly recommending a further limitation to public gatherings from my advice on March 12, 2020. I am further advising Ontarians to avoid large gatherings of over 50 people. In addition, I am specifically requesting the closure of the following settings as soon as possible:

  • All recreational programs and libraries
  • All private schools
  • All daycares
  • All churches and other faith settings
  • All bars and restaurants, with the exception of restaurants that can shift to takeout/delivery mechanisms.”
Ontario Newsroom Ontario Newsroom
Statement

Enhanced Measures to Protect Ontarians from COVID-19

March 16, 2020

TORONTO — Today, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health issued the following statement detailing enhanced public health measures to help contain the spread of COVID-19:

“Following a number of significant announcements regarding travel and public health measures over the past 72 hours, and after further consultations with my colleagues across Canada, I would like to take the opportunity to clarify my guidance to Ontarians on COVID-19.

This is an evolving situation, and your role in helping to manage the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario is critical. It is imperative that we take steps now and take steps together to reduce opportunities for transmission. I am asking for your cooperation in following the advice below as best you can over the coming weeks. By working together, we can make a difference in this outbreak and protect those among us who are most vulnerable to COVID-19.

The symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, new cough and difficulty breathing, and these may occur within 14 days of an exposure to another case.

Additional closures

I am strongly recommending a further limitation to public gatherings from my advice on March 12, 2020. I am further advising Ontarians to avoid large gatherings of over 50 people. In addition, I am specifically requesting the closure of the following settings as soon as possible:

  • All recreational programs and libraries
  • All private schools
  • All daycares
  • All churches and other faith settings
  • All bars and restaurants, with the exception of restaurants that can shift to takeout/delivery mechanisms

If you do not have any symptoms of COVID-19

Everyone in Ontario should be practicing social distancing to reduce their exposure to other people. This means that you can carry out daily activities, such as going to work (if you cannot work from home) and doing necessary shopping and appointments.

I ask that everyone in Ontario does their best to avoid close contact with people outside of their immediate families. Close contact includes being within 2 meters of another person.

In addition:

If you believe you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms, I recommend that you begin to self-monitor for a period of 14 days. This means that, in addition to social distancing, you should track how you feel. You should take your temperature daily and log any other symptoms that develop (e.g., sore throat, new cough). You can share these records with your primary care provider over the phone if you seek assessment services.

All persons over 70 years of age and individuals who are immunocompromised are advised to self-isolate for a period of 14 days. This means that you should only leave your home or see other people for essential reasons.  Where possible, you should seek services over the phone or internet or ask for help from friends, family or neighbours with essential errands.

If you have travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days

If you have travelled and are not a healthcare worker or another essential service worker, I ask that you self-isolate for 14 days since your arrival in Canada. People who are self-isolating should not go to work.

In addition:

  • Workers who have travelled and are part of workplaces that are essential to daily living are able to return to work as long as they are asymptomatic. However, they should self-monitor for a period of 14 days and identify themselves to their employer so that a plan can be put into place to ensure the protection of those workplaces.
  • Children under the age of 16 years who have travelled outside of Canada should also self-isolate for a period of 14 days. Parents should actively monitor their children’s symptoms. Children who are self-isolating should stay at home and avoid social gathering points such as community centres or parks.

Public Health Ontario has excellent fact sheets on how to self monitor and self isolate.

If you start to feel symptoms of COVID-19

I am requesting anyone who begins to feel unwell (fever, new cough or difficulty breathing) to return home and self-isolate immediately. People who are self-isolating should seek clinical assessment over the phone – either through TeleHealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) or by calling their primary care provider’s office. If you need additional assessment, your primary care provider or TeleHealth will direct you to in-person care options. If you are in medical distress and need urgent care, you should call 911 and let them know what you are self-isolating because of COVID-19.

If you are an employer

I am asking all employers in Ontarians to facilitate virtual work arrangements to enable employees to work from home where possible to enable workers to limit their activities, care for children and to self isolate. However, I recognize that there are a number of workplaces where this is not possible. I would ask those employers to use their judgement to sustain operations in a manner that maintains social distancing.

If need to seek health care for COVID-19

If you are unwell and need to seek health assessment for COVID-19 there are three options to available:

  • A Self Assessment Tool available at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/2019-novel-coronavirus
  • Telehealth Ontario at: 1-866-797-0000 (24/7)
  • Your primary care provider – you should call your primary care provider and they will provide virtual assessment by phone or other technology. You should not book an in-person visit for COVID-19 assessment without first having a virtual assessment.

If you require an in-person health assessment, you will be referred to an appropriate location for in-person health assessment.  Only people with COVID-19 symptoms will be tested.

I want to remind all Ontarians that there are important actions that they should be taking every day in order to protect your health. These include:

  • washing your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • sneezing and cough into your sleeve
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • avoid contact with people who are sick
  • stay at home if you are sick. In particular, do not visit a long-term care, retirement home or other congregate living situation.

Thank you for all of your support. These are difficult times, but together we will move through and protect the most vulnerable among us.”

CONTACTS

David Jensen
Communications Branch
416-314-6197
media.moh@ontario.ca

Hayley Chazan
Senior Manager, Media Relations
416-726-9941
hayley.chazan@ontario.ca

Ministry of Health
http://ontario.ca/health