Another Ontario Spot Is Laying Down Stricter COVID-19 Rules With Smaller Capacity Limits

The rules will go into effect on Friday.

Toronto Associate Editor
Another Ontario Spot Is Laying Down Stricter COVID-19 Rules With Smaller Capacity Limits

A southwestern public health unit in Ontario announced it will be reinstating certain health measures due to growing concerns of COVID-19 cases in the region.

"Given the disproportionate burden of COVID-19 on the region of Windsor-Essex served by the Windsor Essex County Health Unit, I am issuing these instructions to control the spread of COVID-19," Medical Officer of Health for WECHU Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, said in a letter posted on December 5.

As of December 10, indoor social gatherings will be capped at 10 people while outdoor gatherings will be limited to 25 people in total. These capacity limits, however, do not apply to weddings, funerals, or other religious service ceremonies.

Bars without dance floors, restaurants, and meeting and event spaces will have to cut their indoor capacities in half (by 50%) in order to make way for social distancing between tables. They will also have to put up signage of how many people are allowed inside.

The health unit is also encouraging work-from-home measures for employees, too, so that it can reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission between workers. Dr. Nesathurai recommends that this be done by opting for online meetings and implementing physical distancing in break rooms as well as staggering breaks and lunches, too.

Workplaces also have to actively screen their employees for COVID-19, make sure they're following masking protocols, following a proof of vaccination status report where applicable, and maintain a contact list of all attendees at the workplace (including guests) with their names and contact information.

On December 3, Windsor Regional Hospital, Essex-Windsor EMS and WECHU announced there are longer wait times for health care due to capacity pressures at their hospitals.

"Hospitals are reporting significant bed capacity concerns amid not only rising COVID-19 cases but also a recent surge in respiratory ailments," the health officials wrote. "Although emergency cases are always attended to rapidly and receive immediate medical treatment, patients should expect that wait times and treatment for any ailments other than emergencies will be much longer than usual. Ambulance response times for non-emergency situations may also be longer than usual."

Last month, Health Minister Christine Elliott said local public health units might have to reinstate COVID-19 measures in order to mitigate the uptick in cases. Other regions that have reimplemented these rules so far include KFL&A Health Unit, Sudbury, Algoma Public Health, Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, and Southwestern Public Health.

Alex Arsenych
Toronto Associate Editor