SUDBURY -- With the appearance of new COVID-19 cases in Hearst in the last few days, the Town of Hearst has declared a state of emergency due to the high risk of community exposure to COVID-19.

“It’s not an easy decision to make," Mayor Roger Sigouin said in a news release. "The Porcupine Health Unit determines there is an increased risk of exposure in Hearst currently and we must act quickly.

"Unfortunately, the situation is getting worse by the day, which brings us to this decision. If we want to have the chance of celebrating Christmas as a family, we have to act now.”

The Porcupine Health Unit issued a press release on Oct. 30 in which it strongly recommends that all Hearst residents take extra precautions and heighten vigilance.

“As many of you are aware, there has been an increase in confirmed COVID-19 cases," Dr. Lianne Catton, medical officer of health, said in the release. "While community exposure is probable in every community, the Porcupine Health Unit is concerned about an increased risk of community exposure in the town of Hearst.”

Ontario Regulation 364/20 limits public or social gatherings to a maximum of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors.

"The Town of Hearst and the members of the Community Emergency Committee are asking for everyone’s cooperation during this difficult period," the release said. "We thank you for your understanding."