WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens declared a state of emergency in the city and ordered the closure of Devonshire Mall and Tecumseh Mall to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

While the province and other cities have have also declared states of emergency, Dilkens is going a step further, shutting down local malls.

Both the Devonshire Mall and the Tecumseh Mall will close after their regular hours end on Saturday. They will remain closed until April 5.

"We know folks coming home from Florida or elsewhere where they've been on vacation certainly have a 14-day quarantine period and this will allow them to quarantine without the urge to go to a public place like the malls and hangout,” Dilkens says.

The mall closures include any shops attached to the mall buildings or sites within the mall parking lots.

Pharmacy, grocery and licenced restaurant operations are exempt from the order.

Health officials continue to recommend against gathering in large groups, and the closures are a further safeguard.

“Schools, restaurants, churches, community centres, pools, libraries and arenas have shut their doors to help reduce the risk of transmission,” Dilkens said in a statement.

“This is just the appropriate next step to take as we seek to protect public health.”

The mayor also points to video game stores where a new release drew a crowd beyond the current recommended gathering, determined by health officials.

“Now none of these folks ever anticipated there would be that many people, they’re probably not counting the number of people in line to figure out how to be compliant, it wasn’t a planned event, but at the same time, it’s the type of situation where you know there is a greater chance for spread of the virus if in fact it existed with one of those folks,” Dilkens tells CTV News.

Latest updates from the city can be found on the City of Windsor website or from the Windsor Essex County Health Unit.