'Brides are in tears': Restrictions coming for Windsor-Essex, Ont., weddings, bars and restaurants

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has determined that a significant number of new COVID-19 infections are linked to a few key settings and is taking steps to address the issue.

Beginning next week, a new set of restrictions will be in effect for Windsor-Essex County, going above and beyond Ontario's province-wide rules.

The local health unit says 141 recent cases are linked to weddings, 46 to restaurants, 28 are tracing back to nightclubs, and 11 cases are from adult entertainment clubs.

Beginning Sept. 7, there will be zero tolerance for non-compliance on all requirements, and fines will be issued to people caught breaking the rules, the health unit said.

Under the new rules, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and adult entertainment clubs must close by midnight.

“If 95 per cent of your income or your revenue comes from 12-2 how are you gonna pay the bills from 9-12? It doesn’t make any sense,” says Renaldo Agostino, owner of Turbo Espresso Bar.

Agostino understands the concerns of rising cases, but disagrees with the latest guidelines.

“We keep making the same mistakes over and over again. This is the third time we’ve done this and each time it literally hasn’t worked, so why are we doing it again? It makes zero sense.”

Indoor dancing at these venues will be strictly prohibited.

"We are trying to find the right balance where we can continue to stay open, we can continue to do business and also not jeopardizing and compromising the health and safety of our residents,” says Dr. Wajid Ahmed, Windsor-Essex medical officer of health.

Upcoming weddings and funerals won’t go as planned, and may have to downsize and make adjustments.

“People like us that we lost 90 per cent of our business last year. Six million dollars, so where is that funding going to come from?” says Ron Moro, manager of the Caboto Club, one of the major wedding venues in the region.

Beginning Sept. 20, capacity at weddings and funerals will be limited to 100 people.

All attendees must show proof of vaccination records and dancing will not be allowed indoors, except for the bride and groom.

“According to the new rules you need to screen everybody as they come in the doors. Who’s gonna help us with that?” Moro says.

“Some brides are in tears today because they made all these — you have to understand, a lot of them changed their plans from what it was like in 2020.”

There are also new rules for workplaces.

The health unit is asking employers to review safety plans with staff at least once a month and keep a list of people who enter the building.

As the landscape of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to change, the health unit will now hold YouTube briefings twice a week.