All Ontario casinos to close temporarily amid COVID-19 outbreak

All Ontario casinos will close temporarily amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Ontario's Lottery & Gaming said on Sunday.

Closure to be complete within about 24 hours, OLG says

OLG said an 'orderly shutdown' of all casinos across the province has begun amid the COVID-19 outbreak. (Julie Jacobson/AP)

All Ontario casinos will close temporarily amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Ontario's Lottery & Gaming said on Sunday.

"This action is consistent with the recommendations of the province's Chief Medical Officer of Health related to new precautionary measures for COVID-19," the OLG said in a news release. 

OLG said an "orderly shutdown" of all casinos across the province has begun.

"We expect the closure to be complete within approximately 24 hours," it said.

OLG said it will provide information on when the casinos will reopen but the timing depends on advice from public health authorities.

The crown agency added that the health and safety of its customers and employees is a priority for OLG.

The move comes after Theo Lagakos, president of Local 533 of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, which represents workers at Casino Woodbine in Toronto, called for its immediate closure on Saturday.

Lagakos had questioned why the casino was still open when many other services in Toronto and across Ontario were being closed. He had noted that casino workers were not allowed to wear masks and also they had no mechanism to clean cards, chips and tables.

"None of us wish to be in a situation where a particular business takes a hit, however … health and safety has to be a priority," Lagakos had said.

Ontario now has over 100 COVID-19 cases

On Sunday, the Ontario government announced 43 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the provincial total to 146.

Five of those patients are no longer infectious, the province said on its website.

Among the new cases, 14 people with the novel coronavirus are in Toronto, five are in Peel Region and three are in York Region. Another three are in Hamilton. All are self-isolating, except one person in the area of Simcoe-Muskoka and that person is hospitalized.

Toronto has shut down major city services amid the growing number of COVID-19 cases.

City officials have said the shutdown of services — recommended by Toronto's medical officer of health Dr. Eileen de Villa — is necessary to help slow the rate of COVID-19 infection in the city and protect vulnerable populations.