The City of Vancouver has declared a state of emergency in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It gives the city power to enforce public safety measures, such as closing all public-serving businesses or monitoring grocery stores and pharmacies to curb panic buying.
Police and fire officials can also enforce public health orders and restrictions on businesses.
“We have seen empty shelves and panic shopping in the last few days. This is unacceptable,” Mayor Kennedy Stewart told a news conference on Wednesday.
“Stay home as much as you can, and on the rare occasion that you need to leave home to get essentials, keep a safe distance of one to two metres from others.”
Stewart has called a “virtual council meeting” for Thursday to further address the issue.
The city had already announced the closure of most civic facilities and the suspension of non-essential programs to curb the spread of the disease.
Meanwhile, on the same day, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth declared a provincial state of emergency in B.C. to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
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