TORONTO -- Health officials in Newfoundland and Labrador have announced some of Canada’s strictest measures aimed at slowing the spread COVID-19.

Speaking on Wednesday afternoon, the province’s Health Minister John Haggie declared a public health emergency and announced several strict penalties for those who fail to comply with provincial orders.

“By and large the level of compliance with our recommendations has been high, but again, our opportunity to flatten the curve is now, and we are seeing that this order, this declaration, enables penalties and consequences for non-compliance,” Haggie told reporters.

The province announced several restrictions, including the immediate closure of fitness facilities, bars, movie theatres and arenas. Restaurants that can meet the social distancing measures will be allowed to remain open at half capacity.

The province is also banning gatherings of more than 50 people and is requiring anyone returning from another country to self-isolate for 14 days.

Among the penalties for failing to comply with these regulations include a fine of $2,500, a jail sentence of up to six months for an individual and a fine of up to $50,000 for corporations. Company directors will also be held liable for the individual penalties.

These penalties will multiply each time someone fails to comply, the province added.

“These are significant penalties,” Haggie said. “We hope we never have to use them, but they exist, and if necessary we will use them.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were three presumptive cases of COVI-19 in Newfoundland and Labrador.