WINDSOR, ONT -- The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce is hoping the province will allow some exceptions that would allow businesses outside of the Kingsville and Leamington hot zones to open, while and also providing a bigger safety net for those struggling due to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency order.

Chamber president Rakesh Naidu suggested the province allow businesses in the Windsor area to “selectively reopen,” noting more than 75 per cent of businesses are located outside of the area where the majority of COVID-19 cases are presenting.

“If we can’t all reopen at the same time, can we reopen selectively. I think the answer is yes,” Naidu tells CTV Windsor. “Let’s take those measures, it may not be easy, we may have to put in place some processes and templates to make this happen, but I think it’s worth that effort.”

He makes the request after a handful of businesses closed up shop today for good while he says others are on the cusp of folding. Naidu says other businesses are managing to stay afloat only by taking on a lot of debt.

Because of this, he’s also calling for the province to increase temporary aid to area businesses stuck in a holding pattern due to circumstances well out of their control.

“This is straining the businesses. When we have an extension of the lockdown, I think it is only fair that Windsor-Essex region companies are given some kind of support so they can endure the next few days,” says Naidu.

Windsor-Essex is the only region of 34 across the province still in Stage 1 of the province’s reopening of the economy plan.

He tells CTV Windsor businesses have complied with provincial orders for three months and now it’s time for the province to step up and provide extra support, above and beyond federal assistance programs.

“We look at this as a unique issue with a unique challenge which needs a unique solution as well. And that is I think where we are urging the provincial government to come up with a package that is more unique to the Windsor-Essex region,” Naidu says.