LONDON, ONT. -- Canada's top public health officer raised the risk level associated with the growing COVID-19 pandemic on Sunday.

Ontario has the highest number of covid-19 cases in the country with 145 reported as of March 15.

In order to help prevent the spread of the virus the city of London released a statement that a number of city-wide programs and facilities will be closing effective Monday.

  • community centres
  • arenas
  • pools
  • recreation and sport programming
  • community rentals
  • March Break day camp programs

Sunday service for church-goers is also cancelled. Canon Kevin George from St Aiden’s Anglican Church wants to follow the advice given by health professionals and limit large gatherings.

George did not want to stop the sermon however, so he took a virtual approach.

"Today we did a Facebook live as well as a YouTube broadcast for our Sunday morning service. Unlike a regular Sunday morning where we would be having a communion, bread and wine, it was more a service of a word, a morning prayer. Our music director came in and played music just so people can be connected," said George.

March Break has also been extended for two weeks meaning families will have more time with their kids, but fewer activities to occupy them.

Mathew Baselaere, a father, says he understands it’s important to follow social distancing efforts but adds,

"It’s a little frustrating with minor sports being shut down for the year. The five-year-old was actually going to be playing in the first period of the knight’s first playoff game. We were unable to do that so we have to deal with the disappointment of that."

Father, Costa Dimitrakopoulos, says it won’t be so difficult to entertain his kids as long as the weather cooperates, "but it’s challenging because you got the kids all day," he says, "unfortunately we rely so much on the system to help us and it’s going to be a very challenging next two to three weeks for sure."

Health officials are suggesting that large gatherings over 250 people should be cancelled. Minister of Heath Christine Elliot in response has cancelled planned events at Ontario parks including all visiting centres.

Residents at Dearness Home who are particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 will not be getting any non-essential visitors anytime soon and screening protocols will be put in place.

The city of London stated in a public service announcement

"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. Health agencies agree that large gatherings put people at risk; these cancellations and closures come because there is nothing more important than the health and well-being of your families and ours."

As of Tuesday, most Ontario Superior Court of Justice operations will be suspended until further notice. Only urgent public health and safety matters and urgent civil, family and criminal matters will be heard.