Windsor-Essex sees double-digit COVID increase, but reopening measures continue to loosen

As Windsor-Essex sees double-digit COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bars and restaurants return to regular hours of operation under new provincial guidelines. 

Nearly half of the region's new cases are in agri-farm workers

Bars and restaurants in Windsor-Essex can stay open until 2 a.m. once again, after more than a month of early close times. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

As Windsor-Essex sees a double-digit increase in COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bars and restaurants return to regular hours of operation under new provincial guidelines. 

Since Windsor-Essex was placed under the province's green or 'prevent' category of reopening, that means bars and restaurants have been allowed to stay open until 2 a.m. Since Sept. 26, last call had been restricted to 11 p.m. and closing time was set at midnight.

Though the new provincial rules rolled out on Nov. 7, the health unit addressed them Tuesday and said "as of today, we are following what the provincial guidelines are." 

The local health unit does have the authority to override these restrictions if they see fit. 

Local public health officials have been warning that tighter restrictions are possible because of the increasing case load, and the looser rules for bars and restaurants are at odds with that message.

Though they are adopting these rules, medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said that it doesn't mean that there is "low-risk." 

He continued to say that the health unit stands by its pandemic status, which states that the region is in orange or at a medium-risk. 

"People still need to understand that COVID is not gone away, it still exists in the community, loosening some of these restrictions doesn't necessarily mean the risk is low or gone completely pleas do not misunderstand these loosening measures with low-risk probability and it can change very quickly," Ahmed said. 

These looser restrictions are taking place as the the health unit reported 21 new cases Wednesday.  Of these,10 are agri-farm workers, two are health-care workers, one is a close contact of a confirmed case, one is a resident of a long-term care home, one is a community acquired case and six others are under investigation. 

In total, the region has 111 active cases. 

Four long-term care homes remain in outbreak, including: 

  •  Berkshire Care Center in Windsor has one staff case. 
  • Riverside Place in Windsor has two staff cases. 
  • Lifetimes on Riverside in Windsor has four resident cases and four staff cases. 
  • Iler Lodge in Essex has five resident cases and one staff case. 

Windsor-Essex is one of 25 public health units across Ontario that fall under the province's green category. 


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