Windsor-Essex in 'comfortable' position to move into Step 2 of reopening: MOH

Clients welcomed back at the The Look Hair Studio in Kingsville, Ont., on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. (Chris Campbell / CTV Windsor)

The province has indicated Step 2 of reopening won’t take place until July 2, but the Medical Officer of Health for Windsor-Essex says the region is already in a comfortable position to loosen restrictions.

Dr. Wajid Ahmed says that considering the high vaccination rate and low COVID-19 case count in Windsor-Essex, he would feel comfortable with moving to Step 2 early.

"If the trend continues, if the province announce that maybe this weekend or the next weekend, we can move to the next step, I'd be comfortable with that," says Ahmed.

WECHU reported nine new cases on Wednesday and there are only 89 active cases in the region.

"Even from last week to this week, I think we are moving in a better direction, with case rates consistently coming into a position which makes me feel much more comfortable every day," says Ahmed.

Ahmed doesn’t have the authority to move the region to Step 2 without provincial approval.

“As a community, we are in a position that we can open up sooner than later, but we recognize that this is something that’s happening provincially,” says Ahmed.

The Ontario Roadmap to Reopening hinges on several factors province-wide, including hospitalizations and vaccine coverage.

Kingsville council would also like to see the region reopen earlier and has backed a motion to invite Premier Doug Ford to visit the town to better understand the situation outside of the Greater Toronto Area.

“It’s very different than the GTA and certainly we understand the pressures of being a hot spot,” Kingsville mayor Nelson Santos says. “We were that hot spot for quite a long time and we suffered through and found a way.”

Santos feels this is an important time to help small businesses recover from shutdowns.

“It’s not business as normal for our community, and we kinda need to get back to what we’re used to this time of year,” he says.

The mayor would like to have council sign off on the letter and have it sent to Ford by the end of the week.

Windsor-Essex is better than the provincial average on both fronts. There are currently 10 people in the hospital with the virus, and three in the ICU.

The region has also surpassed the vaccine goals of over 70 per cent vaccinated with one dose and 20 per cent with both doses.

"In Step 2 of the reopening plan, we do talk about at least 20 per cent of the people vaccinated with two doses so we have already crossed that mark and crossed that significantly at more than 25 per cent," says Ahmed. "So we are in a better position to maybe consider reopening but I always caution in terms of the active cases."

Windsor-Essex and the rest of the province moved into Step 1 on Friday, June 11, allowing patio dining and non-essential retail to reopen.

Step 2 would allow personal care services to reopen, six-people per table at patios, increased capacity at stores and outdoor sports games.

Indoor dining and indoor gyms are part of Step 3 of reopening, proposed for July 23.