Windsor-Essex moving to 'red' zone of provincial COVID-19 shutdown framework
Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Nov. 27, 2020. (CTV News)
WINDSOR, ONT. -- Windsor-Essex will be moving into the more restricted ‘Red-Control’ category in the province’s COVID-19 shutdown framework.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Minister of Health Christine Elliott made the announcement on Friday.
Windsor-Essex is currently in the ‘Orange-Restrict’ tier of Ontario’s five-level system. The move to red takes place on Monday at 12:01 a.m. Four other regions will also change categories.
"The health and safety of all Ontarians is and will always be our top priority, that's why we are following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts and making this adjustment today," said Elliott. "Over the last week we have seen a shift in the trends of key public health indicators in regions across the province, and by moving these five regions to a new level in the framework, we can ensure that the necessary targeted measures are in place to stop the spread of the virus and allow us to keep our schools and businesses open."
The full guidelines for each tier are outlined in Ontario's COVID-19 Response Framework.
Some of the changes for restaurants and bars include:
- A maximum of 10 patrons permitted to be seated indoors
- Limit of four people may be seated together
- Dancing, singing and the live performance of music is prohibited.
- Outdoor dining, take out, drive through and delivery is still permitted.
- Establishments must be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.
- Liquor can only be sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Rules for retail:
- Fitting rooms must be limited to non-adjacent stalls
- Line-ups and patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2 metre distance required inside and outside; face covering also required while in line
- Limit volume of music to be low enough that a normal conversation is possible
- Screening of patrons is required, in accordance with instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health
- Maximum number of patrons permitted to be seated indoors in mall food court is 10
- A safety plan is required to be prepared and made available upon request
For sports, gyms and fitness studios:
- Permitted to be open with maximum of 10 people indoors or 25 people outdoors in classes and 10 people indoors in areas with weights or exercise equipment.
- Increase spacing between patrons to 3 metres for areas of a sport or recreational facility where there are weights or exercise equipment and in exercise and fitness classes
- Team sports must not be practiced or played except for training (no games or scrimmage)
- Activities that are likely to result in individuals coming within 2 metres of each other are not permitted; no contact permitted for team or individual sports, with an exemption for high performance, including parasport, athletes.
The limits for all organized public events and social gatherings are five people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Schools remain open in all tiers of the government's framework, even lockdown.
Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said based on the weekly statistics and framework outlined by the province, the region is already technically in the red zone.
There's been a total of 217 new COVID-19 infections in Windsor-Essex between Monday and Friday and the per cent positivity rate is almost four per cent. The province also looks at other indicators.
Many small business owners were hoping the government would ‘give orange a chance’ before making a change.
Kate Robinson, owner of the Twisted Apron restaurant, is concerned about the capacity limits.
“In red zone, a business like my own, a restaurant, is only allowed 10 people, I’m not sure how you continue to operate a business only being allowed 10 where at one point I was allowed 120 in here,” says Robinson.
Other local restaurant owners have mentioned needing to cut staff for the time being, while others have said they will have to pivot the way they do business.
Renaldo Agostino, owner of Turbo Café, is reminding residents to support local businesses.
“Now’s the time to stay diligent, to stay safe and make sure you’re washing your hands, wearing your mask,” he said. “But make sure you’re supporting local because that’s the most important thing right now if you support local everyone’s gonna be alright.”
In light of the move into the ‘Red-Control’ category, the City of Windsor is taking additional steps and suspending recreational services in pools, arenas, and community centres for a two-week period in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“The fact that we have moved three times in the past three weeks is an obvious indicator that the situation in our region is significant, and getting worse,” said Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens. “It hurts having to take another step back, but that’s what we’ll do, and together we’ll regroup as a community and refocus our efforts on keeping each other safe.”
After-school programming in city facilities will continue, and tenants leasing space in city facilities for after-school programs or non-recreational services can continue. All recreational programming and rentals will end Sunday, Nov. 29 to be assessed two weeks later.
The five categories the province revealed on Nov. 3 are Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Grey-Lockdown. Toronto and Peel moved into lockdown last week.
Chatham-Kent is currently in the yellow level. It's status remains unchanged.
A total of five Ontario public health regions will move from their current level in the framework to the following levels on Monday.
- Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.
- Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.
- Hastings Prince Edward Public Health
- Lambton Public Health; and
- Northwestern Health Unit.
All other public health regions will remain at their current level. Here’s a full list of public health region classifications.
The province says trends in public health data will continue to be reviewed weekly to determine if public health units should stay where they are or be moved into a higher level.
“Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level,” said a news release from the province.
The last two times the province changed the region’s COVID colour code, Ford announced it on a Friday, and the measures took effect the following Monday.