Windsor-Essex facing 'risk of going into a lockdown' warns top doctor

Windsor-Essex has been ripping through the colour codes of the province’s COVID-19 shutdown framework and the medical officer of health warns the region is at the risk of moving into a lockdown.

The province announced Nov. 3 that all Ontario public health unit regions will be categorized into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Grey-Lockdown.

Windsor-Essex started at green, moved to yellow on Nov. 16, advanced to orange on Nov. 23 and finally to red on Monday.

The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported 62 new cases on Tuesday, and is monitoring 18 outbreaks.

Windsor-Essex medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed warns if the numbers keep climbing, there’s only one option left.

“We are at the risk of going into a lockdown,” he said during Tuesday morning's news briefing.

As outlined by the province, a lockdown would mean the closure of malls, hair salons and gyms. Retail stores and restaurants would have to shift to curbside pickup and drive-thru options. Schools would remain open.

Ahmed added that there is no established threshold from the province for the lockdown tier and it’s more what the qualitative data looks like.

"With the cases increasing, I'm not sure anymore and I don't have a threshold at this time to say 'yes, let’s go to lockdown' but the numbers are really going in that direction to force us into that situation," said Ahmed.

Ahmed said he would like to see the impact of the measures that are already in place before moving to the next tier of restrictions.

Aside from the number of new virus cases, Ontario health officials also look at per cent positivity rate, case doubling rate and other indicators when making the category decisions.

Following the latest restrictions hasn't been easy for many small business owners.

“That’s a tough question to answer. How’s it been? It’s been difficult. How’s it going to go? It’s going to get tougher,” Renaldo Agostino, president turbo espresso pub said. “Is there light at the end of the tunnel? One hundred per cent absolutely.”

With talk of a vaccine, Agostino remains optimistic.

“I think the most important thing right now is to kind of look at business and society and look at what’s going on here and really equate it to the twelfth round of a fight or the fourth quarter of a basketball game,” he said.

All Agostino wants is one united plan, agreed upon by all levels of government.

“Someone has just got a make a solid decision and say listen. We’re going to win this, it’s going to take another couple months,” he said. “Everyone is going to get a cheque stay home, lets figure it out. Or make the playing field even.”

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has made announcements about level changes every Friday since establishing the new framework on Nov. 3.

- With files from CTV Windsor's Chris Campbell