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Coronavirus: City of London reduces operations to essential services only

City council will host its next public participation meeting on the upcoming multi-year budget in mid-February.
City council will host its next public participation meeting on the upcoming multi-year budget in mid-February. Matthew Trevithick / 980 CFPL File

The City of London is taking additional measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 by moving to minimal operation and delivering essential services only.

This will include closing down City Hall, arenas, community centres and senior’s centres, pools, libraries, golf courses and Provincial Offences Court and social services offices to the public by end of day Tuesday until further notice.

This comes after the Ontario declared a State of Emergency Tuesday morning.

READ MORE: Ontario government declares state of emergency amid coronavirus pandemic

The city already made the decision on Saturday to cancel all city-operated programs and close the facilities where those programs are run.

The services that will still continue include, fire and emergency services, public transit, the licensed child care fee subsidy (online and by phone), facilities operations, traffic services, and by-law enforcement.

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Road operations, security services, burial permits, garbage collection, recycling, envirodepots and public access to W12A, social services (Ontario Works), housing services, Housing Access Centre (HAC), homeless prevention and supports, and water and wastewater services will also continue.

Effective Monday, March 16, all facilities and programs at community centres, arenas, pools, recreation and sports programming, and community rentals closed until further notice.

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The decision will impacted all March break day camps the city had planned for children aged 5 to 12 from Monday, March 16, to Friday, March 20.

​On Saturday, the city released a statement that said, “We realize the difficulty this will cause for many people in our community. We are in an extraordinary time when each of us has a responsibility to do as much as we can to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

The statement went on to say that those directly impacted will get more details over the next few days.

Dr. David Williams, Ontario Chief Medical Officer of Health The Chief Medical Officer of Health, recommends suspending all large events and public gatherings of over 250 people.

In addition to the closures and cancellations, the city will also be restricting all non-essential visitors to Dearness Home and implementing screening protocols to protect the residents who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

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READ MORE: Coronavirus: All publicly funded schools in Ontario closing for 2 weeks due to COVID-19

This decision comes two days after the province of Ontario announced on Thursday that all publicly funded schools would be closed for two weeks following March break until April 5.

“Since we first learned of COVID-19 as an emerging public health issue, Ontario has been diligently monitoring the developing situation to protect the health and well-being of all Ontarians,” a joint statement from Premier Doug Ford, Health Minister Christine Elliott and Education Minister Stephen Lecce said Thursday afternoon.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: What’s open, closed — and cancelled — in London, Ont.

London’s first case was reported back in January and involved a woman who had returned from Wuhan, China. Health officials say the women self-isolated and has since been cleared of the illness.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: New case found in Middlesex-London healthcare worker

Concerned about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials say the risk is very low for Canadians.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing – very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. And if you get sick, stay at home.

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For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

With Files from Andrew Graham, Global News