Windsor-Essex excluded from Stage 3 of reopening as seven more regions advance
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor-Essex is once again lagging behind other regions with the province’s reopening plan, and will not be permitted to advance to Stage 3 this week.
Seven more regions will move forward, but Toronto, Peel and Windsor will remain in Stage 2 this week.
Durham, Halton, Hamilton, Niagara, Haldiman-Norfolk, Lambton and York regions got the go ahead to enter Stage 3 this Friday. Twenty-four other regions, including Chatham-Kent advanced last week.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford made the announcement on Monday afternoon with Health Minister Christine Elliott and Finance Minster Rod Phillips.
“We won’t rest until all of Ontario gets to Stage 3,” said Ford, who added the three regions left behind will “get there shortly.”
Ford said it’s very important to keep following public health guidelines with physical distancing and social bubbles.
“We know as a province, we can’t ease up,” said Ford.
Elliott said they look at four weeks of data to understand what is happening at a local level and to make sure there are no other concerns before moving forward.
“We do need that specific data, those four weeks,” said Elliott.
Stage 3 allows gyms, bars, playgrounds, dine-in services and cinemas to reopen. It also allows larger social gatherings of 50 people indoors, and 100 people outside. Physical distancing rules still apply.
Windsor-Essex was the last region in the province to advance to Stage 2, with Leamington and Kingsville advancing on July 7. Windsor, Lakeshore, Amherstburg, Tecumseh and Essex moved to that phase on June 25.
Ford visited Kingsville and Leamington last week, getting a Stage 2 haircut while he was there.
“That’s how you get the pulse of the people, by getting out there,” said Ford.
Ford said the area was held back due to the high number of COVID-19 cases in the local agri-farm sector.
On Monday, Windsor-Essex reported 18 new cases, with seven at agri-farms. Over the weekend, there were 85 new COVID-19 cases in the area, including 60 farm workers.
“What we knew in January is dramatically different with what we know in July now with respect to Covid-19,” said Windsor Regional Hospital CEO David Musyj,
Not surprised Windsor-Essex will be staying in Stage 2 for at least another week, Musyj believes the region’s gradual approach provides an insight that those who already advanced didn’t have.
“Unfortunately there’s some jurisdictions across the world that are still living in January, and have not adapted to what’s happening in July and as a result they’re having massive outbreaks again or a resurgence of COVID,” he said.
Musyj said it’s important to take precautions and ensure reopening happens safely, and learn from those who may have “done it too quick.”
“We can get into Stage 3, stay in Stage 3, safely recognize that there’s going to be pockets of various outbreaks,” he said. “Jump on those real quick, contain those so it doesn’t impact all of us.”
- With files from CTV Windsor's Chris Campbell