WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is going to put a mandatory mask policy in place for all commercial establishments.

Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed says the policy will start next week. The health unit has not released details on which day yet. The date is expected to be announced on Monday.

“This should give all area residents a lead time and businesses establishments some lead time to have policies in place to require a cloth mask to enter each of the business establishments,” says Ahmed.

Ahmed says some businesses are following a cloth face mask policy already, but they want to make sure it is more widely used.

“We want to make sure that the recommendation is clearly laid out,” says Ahmed.

Owner of Gina’s European Deli and Gifts Gina Olivito says she’s worried about the people who will refuse to wear a mask.

“I hope they co-operate with me, otherwise what am I supposed to do, they leave,” says Olivito.

Fred’s Farm Fresh International Market owner Fred Bouzide says currently his employees and customers aren’t required to wear masks.

“I’m sure costumers are going to understand that we’re only doing what we have to do to follow the rules of the government,” says Bouzide. “If someone is a little disturbed then I can’t do nothing about it. They’re just going to have to come back when this is all over.”

Ahmed wants to see both workers and customers wearing masks, as Windsor-Essex looks to enter the next stage of reopening. The region is one of only three areas in the province still stuck in Stage 1.

“In order for us to be ready for us to be ready for Stage 2 reopening, we are looking at additional measures that will give us more confidence in how we are keeping our community safe,” says Ahmed.

Co-owner of toast restaurant May Hermiz agrees with the mask policy.

“It would be so much better to put mandatory masks in place for now up until the numbers start decreasing,” says Hermiz.

There were 19 new COVID-19 cases in Windsor-Essex on Friday, including 17 in the agri-farm sector.

Health officials say wearing a cloth mask doesn’t mean you can stop physical distancing. A cloth mask is intended to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, but does not protect the wearer from the virus.

The only other region in Ontario that has made masks mandatory at businesses is Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health.