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Ontario government bans gatherings of more than 5 people in bid to stop coronavirus spread

WATCH ABOVE: Premier Ford updates the province's response to the COVID-19 pandemic on Saturday

The Ontario government has issued an emergency order banning gatherings of more than five people, with some exceptions.

Earlier Saturday, Premier Doug Ford had said his cabinet would meet to discuss new measures aimed at fighting the coronavirus pandemic, including banning gatherings of more than five people.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Screening officer at Toronto Pearson Airport tests positive

By Saturday night, the Ontario government had made up its mind and issued an emergency order under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act “to prohibit organized public events and social gatherings of more than five people, effective immediately.”

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The order does not apply to households with five or more people in it, or to child-care centres that are still running in support of frontline health-care workers, so long as each centre does not have more than 50 people.

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The order also means that funerals “would be permitted to proceed with up to 10 people at one time.”

READ MORE: Ontario reports 151 new coronavirus cases, 1 death as active cases top 1,100

Ford had previously said businesses deemed essential, child-care facilities and families of more than five people will be exempt from the order.

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“I strongly encourage everyone to do the responsible thing and stay home unless absolutely necessary,” he said in the Saturday night statement.

According to the government, organized public events would include: parades, events such as weddings, social gatherings and communal services within places of worship.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Canada to ban sick travellers from domestic flights, intercity trains

Police previously outlined fines that could be laid if the province’s emergency orders are not followed. Global News confirmed those fines, which include a $750 penalty for individuals who defy the order, also apply to the new ban on gatherings of more than 5.

On March 16, Dr. David Williams, the province’s chief medical officer of health, had recommended a ban on gatherings of more than 50.

The Ford government mandated the closure of restaurants, bars, daycares, churches, and other facilities shortly thereafter.

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Meanwhile, Ontario reported 151 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the provincial active case total to 1,118.

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