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Coronavirus: Guelph mayor declares state of emergency in response to COVID-19 pandemic

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Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie has declared a state of emergency for the City of Guelph in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Guthrie made the announcement late Thursday night, just hours after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared in a Guelph General Hospital ward where four healthcare nurses tested positive for the virus.

READ MORE: COVID-19 outbreak declared in ward of Guelph, Ont. hospital

“I have not made this decision lightly,” Guthrie said.

“With this declaration, I implore all Guelph residents to be diligent about practicing safe physical distancing to protect our community’s health and well-being.”

Guthrie said he made the decision after speaking with public health officials, but noted he has seen and heard from the community that people are not taking physical distancing and self-isolation seriously.

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“This greatly disappoints me,” he said. “Let me be clear; if you don’t need to absolutely leave your home, stay home.”

He added that he’s still hearing of parties been held around town along with parents taking their children to playgrounds, even after the city ordered them to be closed earlier this week.

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“Don’t do it. You’re not helping us slow this virus down when you break the rules,” Guthrie said.

READ MORE: Here’s why frequent handwashing is recommended in preventing spread of COVID-19

The city said its emergency management team is working closely with Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health, Guelph General Hospital and Guelph police to put measures in place.

“This is a really clear signal that people need to stay home,” CAO Scott Stewart said.

“We’ve closed what we can, and we’re relying on everyone in our community to do their part to slow this down.

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Along with playgrounds, the city has also closed public facilities and cancelled all events and council meetings through April.

READ MORE: Waterloo Region, municipalities declare state of emergency

A state of emergency will give Guthrie the power to take actions and make orders that are necessary to protect the property, health and welfare of Guelph’s residents.

The state of emergency is effective immediately and will remain in effect until further notice.

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

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are asked to self-isolate for 14 days in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others.

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. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

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