Newmarket Mayor John Taylor declared a state of emergency in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday.

“This is an unprecedented time that most of us have never experienced,” Taylor said in a statement.

“Declaring a state of an emergency is not to incite panic but to incite action and allow the town to dedicate more resources and be in a better position to respond to COVID-19.”

The town of Newmarket will activate its emergency operations centre on Thursday.

Newmarket officials say the town will waive all late payment fees and interests on property tax accounts for the time being.

“Late payments for the March 26 and April 28 property due dates will not be subject to any late payment fees or interests,” officials add.

Newmarket council also approved up to $25,000 to support community meal programs, local food banks or other community needs.

“We need to listen to our public health officials and seriously practice social distancing in order to limit the spread of COVID-19,” Taylor said in the statement.

Newmarket’s emergency declaration comes one day after Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in the province due to COVID-19.

On Tuesday, health officials reported the first potential death related to COVID-19 in Ontario, a 77-year-old Barrie man who passed away at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre on March 11 after coming in close contact with another individual who was confirmed to have the virus.

Last week, Mayor Taylor was in self-isolation after experiencing shortness of breath, fatigue, nausea and aches of pain. He tested negative for the novel coronavirus.

As of Wednesday evening, there are 208 active COVID-19 cases in Ontario. There have been more than 600 confirmed cases in Canada.

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