The “control – red” category is the second highest level of public health restrictions in the province’s response to COVID-19. The next step would be a full lockdown.
Under the red tier restrictions, indoor dining is limited to 10 people and meals must close by 10 p.m. with alcohol sales ending an hour earlier. Gyms are limited to 10 patrons at a time, and indoor social gatherings have a five-person limit.
A full list of restrictions is available here.
The announcement follows weeks of increasing COVID-19 cases in the region. As recently as early November, Windsor-Essex fell into the category of “green preventative” restrictions, the least stringent level.
There are currently 354 active cases in the region, of which 51 were announced earlier on Friday.
Two schools are closed due to outbreaks and there are four outbreaks in long-term care or retirement facilities.
In response to the spike in cases, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit announced on Friday it would add at least 17 employees, including COVID-19 investigators.
The leveling of restrictions was planned. Dr Wajid Ahmed, the region’s medical officer of health, said Wednesday that Windsor-Essex technically meets the criteria, although the call would be made by the province.
Sarnia-Lambton will drop to the yellow “protect” level starting Monday, according to Lambton Public Health.
Earlier this week, a business owner, Tom Lucier of Phog Lounge, said he couldn’t keep up with the speed at which the rules and regulations had changed.
“Right now they’re essentially shutting us down without shutting us down and we’re jumping through obstacles on a day-to-day basis and it’s just not fair, it’s a little silly,” he said.
Caesars Windsor Casino told CBC News it will temporarily close on Monday due to the new restrictions.
Brian Yeomans, president of the Downtown Windsor BIA, previously told CBC News he had heard the concerns and frustration from members.
« [Businesses] did a fantastic job throughout the summer and making sure everything was safe, they followed all of these guidelines, they followed all the rules, ”he said.
“And when things don’t improve, they’re the ones who are still being punished instead of the people who throw these house parties, who go and go and do other things and it’s infuriating. “