WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor-Essex will be part of a province-wide emergency brake shutdown for the next month.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced Thursday the government will shut down the province in response to rising COVID-19 infection rates and hospitalizations.

The province-wide emergency brake will be effective Saturday, April 3, at 12:01 a.m. and the government intends to keep this in place for at least four weeks.

“We are facing a serious situation and drastic measures are required to contain the rapid spread of the virus, especially the new variants of concern,” said Ford. “I know pulling the emergency brake will be difficult on many people across the province, but we must try and prevent more people from getting infected and overwhelming our hospitals. Our vaccine rollout is steadily increasing, and I encourage everyone who is eligible to get vaccinated. That is our best protection against this deadly virus.”

This is the third lockdown-type of shutdown in Windsor-Essex. The region was also shutdown last spring and from mid-December until Feb.16.


The province said the measures include, but are not limited to:

  • Prohibiting indoor organized public events and social gatherings and limiting the capacity for outdoor organized public events or social gatherings to a 5-person maximum, except for gatherings with members of the same household (the people you live with) or gatherings of members of one household and one other person from another household who lives alone.
  • Restricting in-person shopping in all retail settings, including a 50 per cent capacity limit for supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, indoor farmers’ markets, other stores that primarily sell food and pharmacies, and 25 per cent for all other retail including big box stores, along with other public health and workplace safety measures;
  • Prohibiting personal care services;
  • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take-out, drive-through, and delivery only;
  • Prohibiting the use of facilities for indoor or outdoor sports and recreational fitness (e.g., gyms) with very limited exceptions;
  • Requiring day camps to close; and,
  • Limiting capacity at weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites or ceremonies to 15 per cent occupancy per room indoors, and to the number of individuals that can maintain two metres of physical distance outdoors. This does not include social gatherings associated with these services such as receptions, which are not permitted indoors and are limited to five people outdoors.

The medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit Dr. Wajid Ahmed said Thursday he wasn’t part of any of the provincial conversations about restrictions.

“We did hear informally from others, not directly from the ministry that there has been some discussion going on,” says Ahmed.


Ahmed said despite the possible lockdown, he expects schools will remain open to in-class learning.

Ford said they are doing everything they can to keep kids in class.

“This is a top priority,” said Ford. “We have made historic investments in introduce the strongest school safety plan in the entire country, but as always, we will closely monitor the situation and not hesitate to act to protect our kids in your families.”

The Greater Essex County District School Board also posted on social media in-person classes are continuing.


Windsor is currently in the red zone, the fourth tier of the Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework.

Windsor-Essex has been doing better than the provincial average for many of the indicators. Ahmed said a shutdown should improve the situation even more.

“If things go well and if people continue to follow these public health measures, we will be in a much better position to come out of the lockdown more quickly than others,” said Ahmed.

The per cent positivity of COVID-19 tests in Windsor-Essex increased to 3.6 per cent for last week, compared to 2.8 per cent the previous week. The case rate decreased to 44.7/100,000 and the Ro(effective) was 0.9. This week’s stats have not yet been released.

Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott said the emergency shutdown is different than a stay-at-home order.

“We are not going to be producing a stay at home order because we saw that last time that it had tremendous ill effect on both children and adults, and especially with the warmer weather coming,” said Elliott. “We want people to be able to go outside and enjoy the outdoors, assuming that everyone continues to follow the public health safety precautions.”

Ford said the emergency brake shutdown is also different than the lockdown in the provincial framework.

“So it's a complete shutdown of the entire province,” said Ford. “We also see, you know the people gathering in large groups that were totally discouraging. We saw what happened in the last holiday season, it took off. So we're discouraging that outdoor dining. I can tell you, it kills me to cut off the outdoor dining, it does I'm getting calls my phones, blowing up.”

The province confirmed 2,557 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Thursday. Officials have logged more than 2,000 infections for eight straight days.

The last time the province reported a daily case total above the 2,500 mark was on Jan. 22, during the height of the second wave, when 2,662 infections were reported.

With files from