Windsor’s mayor was quick to support new stay-at-home orders and state of emergency issued by the Ontario government.
Mayor Drew Dilkens issued a statement about new restrictions soon after they were announced on Tuesday.
“I fully support the new restrictions announced by Premier Ford and will be working with City Administration to ensure we are doing all we can to protect our staff and the public,” said Dilkens. “The Provincial and Federal Governments have been forced to make some impossible decisions. Pandemic restrictions have already caused significant economic harm for families and small businesses in Windsor.”
I fully support the new restrictions announced by Premier @fordnation and will be working with @CityWindsorON Administration to ensure we are doing all we can to protect our staff and the public. For my full statement on today’s development, visit: https://t.co/RBugivqchg— Drew Dilkens (@drewdilkens) January 12, 2021
Premier Doug Ford announced on Tuesday at Queen's Park that the new stay-at-home order, which will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday, will require everyone to remain at home, with the exception of essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store, pharmacy, accessing health-care services, exercising, or essential work.
The stay-at-home order will remain in effect for at least 28 days. Windsor-Essex schools will also remain closed to in-person learning until at least Feb. 10.
Non-essential construction is also restricted under the new measures, including below-grade construction.
“Last April/May, that hurt a lot more than it does right now,” said Windsor Construction Association executive director Jim Lyons.
Thousands of workers with the association will be affected by the latest state of emergency.
“Certain things, like a commercial project had to come to a halt and that’ll happen again,” said. “Certain industrial projects that don’t lend itself to anything they do with anything in the pandemic side.”
Lyons said residential projects will carry on, and the spread of COVID in the construction industry has been very low.
“The premier always had a position that someone who needs a home they don’t want them to be delayed and so they’re gonna let those projects carry on which is a lot of condos and residential projects going on in the region,” he said.
Work will continue on the area’s largest infrastructure project, the Gordie Howe International Bridge.
Considered a hot spot in the province, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 16 more deaths and 175 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The death toll in the region is 226.
“Our hospitals are full, thousands of our neighbours have gotten sick and over 225 have now died,” said Dilkens. “I’ve said many times before, no elected official seeks public office on a platform to shut down their community or set out to increase unemployment and hardship. But COVID-19 will not win. It is no match for the community spirit and resilience that I know resides here in Windsor.”
The mayor told CTV News we need to get through the next few “difficult indoor winter” months before the vaccine is available to the public and urged the community to work together.
“The last thing we want to see happen is if someone has a car accident, someone has a heart attack, someone needs emergency treatment at the hospital,” he said. “They are at the verge of not being able to help you.”
As far as additional measures being imposed, such as suspending transit again, Dilkens said he is not considering that, but does not recommend people take the bus unless necessary.
“We have sort of locked down as much as we can in terms of community center use and places where there would be a high degree of transmission,” he said. “I look back on the data with transit on very frequent bases and we still are down 70 to 80 per cent in ridership.”
Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said he supports measures that limit gathering.
“With measures that limit or restrict the number of people coming together in numbers, that would be a welcome sign,” said Ahmed.
Ahmed says he is worried when he hears people are not taking the virus seriously.
“This is a disease that is killing people,” said Ahmed. “This is a disease that is affecting many, many lives. This is a disease that is causing chaos in the world and we are not unique.”
Even before the provincial stay-at-home order was issued, Ahmed said they will continue to look at the local lockdown measures.
“We’ll have to go back to what our local situation looks like for Windsor-Essex,” said Ahmed. "I don’t think that the numbers are there to justify that we should remove the lockdown measures, but we also know that our community is not isolated. There are people who move from one community to another. Overall a provincial approach is always helpful, but we also recognize that not everyone is in the same position.”
- With files from CTV Windsor's Angelo Aversa and Sijia Liu