MOH issues instructions for more regulations to start next week

During Dr. Wajid Ahmed's weekly epidemiological summary for the health unit, new regulations on weddings, workplaces and event spaces will be implemented on Sept.7, 2021.

WECHU reports 87 new cases of COVID-19

WECHU Windsor-Essex County Health Unit sign (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

The Windsor Essex County Health Unit's medical officer of health has issued instructions for additional restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19.

Beginning Sept. 7, 2021 all Windsor-Essex residents, business owners and those who oversee organizations that are permitted to open under the Reopening Ontario - A Flexible Response to COVID-19, Act 2020 Regulation 364/20 - must  adopt additional requirements.  

Dr. Wajid Ahmed said these instructions are a result of rising cases, many of which are identified as COVID-19 variants of concern.

"We want them to take that responsibility as community partners. I get it. The last year has been a very difficult year for everyone, especially for the businesses," Dr. Ahmed said. 

"It won't do any good if there is further spread in the community or if the province shuts us down."

For all workplaces, there is now a zero tolerance for non-compliance policy for all measures under the Reopening Ontario, A Flexible Response to COVID-19 Act, 2020.

The health unit is asking workplaces to regularly review workplace safety plans with employees at least once per month. Employers will also be required to keep a list, including contact information, of any person who enters the workplace. This list of attendees must be provided to the public health unit within 24 hours of a request. 

Restaurants, bars and nightclubs

Bars, restaurants, nightclubs and adult entertainment will be required to close at 12 a.m. 

Dancing will be prohibited, except where dancing is part of employment and 2 metres can be maintained. That includes all restaurants, bars, nightclubs and adult entertainment facilities. 

Food and beverage employees will be required to wear masks and eye protection, such as goggles or a face shield at all times for indoors and outdoors, when physical distancing cannot be maintained. 

For conference, convention centres and event spaces, contact information for all those who attend will be required, which must be provided to the public health unit within 24 hours of a request. 

Establishments will be charged if do not follow the regulations. 

Weddings and events

As of September 20, 2021, dancing will be prohibited at weddings, except for the marital couple. Greeting and receiving lines will also be prohibited. 

Capacity limits for weddings and funerals will be based on the number of persons who can maintain 2 metres of physical distance, or a maximum of 100 people.

"We recognize that many individuals must be planning their events much more in advance. We recognize that some may still argue this is still short notice," said Dr. Ahmed. "We can't wait  until a few months before we implement these measures."

Proof of vaccination will be required at all weddings. Active screening at the event is required and those who fail the screening will not be allowed to attend.

Everyone present at the event will be required to wear a mask at all times, except when seated at a table. 

A list of attendees with contact information must be kept and it must be provided to the public health unit within 24 hours of a request. 

Multiple outbreaks

Dr. Wajid Ahmed also identified key establishments that have been linked to multiple outbreaks at the weekly briefing. Seven establishments that held weddings ceremonies, rehearsals and receptions were linked to 141 cases of COVID-19. Forty-four restaurants were connected to 67 cases and three nightclubs were linked to 40 cases. 

"We are seeing a lot of these exposures happening in these settings and partly, as you can imagine, when people don't have a mask and they are sitting and eating. If they are not following public health measures, while they are walking around in the restaurants and while they are entering the restaurants without masks, that is leading to some of these cases in these establishments," he said.

87 new cases 

The health unit reported 87 new cases of COVID-19 and no new deaths on Friday. 

Among the new cases, 20 were acquired through close contact of confirmed cases, 14 were acquired from within the community. Four of the cases are considered travel related, three are related to an outbreak and 46 cases are currently under investigation. 

The region has a total of 18,363 confirmed cases and 439 deaths. 

Dr. Wajid Ahmed said hospitalizations have increased this week due to the virus, 16 patients are currently in hospital.

"It is obviously a concern because it will add a significant burden on our health care system," he said. 

Windsor-Essex currently has 519 active cases in the region with 361 cases considered to be variants of concern and 158 are non-variants of concern.

There are currently 18 outbreaks which includes 16 workplace outbreaks and two community outbreaks. 

Uptick in vaccines

Vaccines have increased over the last week. 

According to Dr. Ahmed 79.6 per cent of eligible residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 72.6 per cent of eligible residents have received two doses. 

Among those who have received the vaccine, 302, 013 residents in Windsor-Essex have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 275, 480 residents have received two doses. 

COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent, Sarnia-Lambton

There was one new case of COVID-19 in Chatham-Kent with 77 current active cases. 

In Sarnia-Lambton, there were zero new cases of COVID-19.