KITCHENER -- The City of Stratford along with Perth County, Perth South, Perth East and West Perth declared a state of emergency in their respective municipalities on Thursday morning.

According to officials, the declaration was made in an attempt to raise awareness to the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

“The decision to declare an emergency is not taken lightly,” said Perth County Warden Jim Aitcheson in a news release. “Perth County is being proactive in our fight against COVID-19 to protect the health and safety of individuals and families.”

The decision will allow the municipalities the flexibility to quickly respond to emergency situations and also access funding if it becomes available.

Stratford Mayor Dan Mathieson says the declaration was made in order to prioritize the health and safety of the city’s residents.

“We want to ensure that we can dedicate all available resources to protecting ourselves against this virus,” said Mathieson in part in a news release.

The announcement comes after the Region of Waterloo and its municipalities declared a state of emergency on Wednesday.

"We worry with community transmission could come a higher infection rate," said Mathieson. "That would then make it too late for us to offer essential services. We need to make sure we are doing everything we can now to start planning what those essential services would be."

The mayor notes that the city has been hit hard by the closure of the Stratford Festival and auto part plants sitting idle.