Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Tuesday, August 4 that Windsor-Essex will be remaining in Stage 2 because of COVID-19 increases. The region has had cases in nursing homes and agribusiness, and numbers have been creeping up in the community as well.
In the province of Ontario, decisions are made by each public health unit for its own region. Ours is the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. As criteria are deemed to be satisfied, a region’s health unit will elect to move to the next stage.
Since Kingsville left Stage 1 on July 7, businesses, community, services and outdoor spaces have been allowed to open things up somewhat. At the same time as people can enjoy greater freedom, however, we also bear the increased responsibility of seeing that safety measures are observed.
The entire province was permitted to increase personal bubbles from five to 10 people a short time before we attained Stage 2. This new freedom of movement has to be balanced with physical distancing, maintaining at least two meters separation from anyone not part of the household.
So you can be out and about more than in previous months. But things will continue to be very different from the old normal.
The Kingsville Times spoke with Mayor Nelson Santos recently about our town’s Stage 2 position. “For Kingsville, I see the status quo allowing more time to measure and review the testing and ongoing COVID-19 reports,” he said.
“It also serves as an important reminder to not forget the basics of prevention and to ensure each of us follow the recommended protocols. Washing hands often, don’t touch your face, social distance by keeping 2 meters apart and wear a mask when you can’t keep a safe distance.”
It’s quite a responsibility to keep the community safe and healthy while restrictions ease in town. It’s necessary to develop and learn new methods of doing business and being around each other. But Stage 2 is a necessary step along the way to help the community recover economically.
The Times spoke also with Councillor Tom Neufeld. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that we were left behind in Stage 2. Just getting to Stage 2 was a feat in itself,” he said.
“Our numbers do not support moving ahead at the moment and I support the decision. We need only to look south of the border to see what the careless actions of a few can do once restrictions are relaxed.”
Local businesses have been carrying a heavy burden, since our lockdown in March, and as we’ve gone slowly through Stage 1 to our present Stage 2. The Kingsville Times spoke with a couple of local businessmen, Harry Roettele and Jason Martin, about what it’s been like for them.
Harry Roettele has been in business for 20 years. His Hill’n Dale Bed and Breakfast is located at 138 Division Street North. Roettele said that he loves having guests because he gets to meet lots of interesting people but because of COVID-19, even his kids have held off visiting.
The B&B business is very much affected by the current situation. Harry told us, “We are basically shut down except for one regular customer. We have no other regular business.” He would not want to put his long-term staff at risk and he recognizes that everyone has their own comfort zone when it comes to dealing with COVID-19.
Jason Martin is president and CEO of Cindy’s Home and Garden. “As a mainly retail business there’s not a lot of difference between 2 and 3 for us so it’s a negligible impact,” he said.
“We have seen a slight increase in sales. As a garden centre in the spring we were fortunate enough to open earlier than most, so it’s been OK all things considered. But I’d say there’s been a small increase in traffic for us since going to Stage 2.”
The province has provided plenty of guidelines as to how to safely navigate Stage 2.
Generally speaking, more places are allowed to be open but at less than their full capacity. Be prepared that face coverings, personal protective equipment (PPE) and gloves are required where appropriate.
Physical distancing and limiting numbers inside must be possible. Many businesses must take customer’s information for contact tracing. They are encouraged to make appointments rather than allowing walk-in traffic.
What places are now allowed to be open?
– Child care centres, community centres, places of worship, malls, markets and shopping centres
– Heritage institutions like botanical gardens, landmarks and outdoor historic site
– Aquariums, drive-ins, galleries, museums and zoos
– Photography services as well as film and television production
– Personal care services like hair services, beauticians and related businesses, diet and weight control businesses, piercing and tattoo businesses, spas and tanning salons
– Personal services such as consulting services, coat checking, personal organizers, personal shoppers, one-on-one fitness trainers, shoe shining and repair and wedding chapels
– Food and beverage businesses may provide dining outdoors, take out and drive-thrus
– Libraries can open with limitations, providing computer access and book pick-up and drop-off without contact
– Tour and guide services can reopen, including hunting, fishing, tasting, tours of stores and manufacturers like wineries, as well as trail riding and walking and bike tours, boat tours, and sightseeing
– Campgrounds and beaches
– Public pools, with swim classes if physical distancing is in place
– Indoor driving ranges and rod and gun clubs
– Teams sports out of doors but only for training, and not for games or scrimmages
– Outdoor recreation like archery, go-cart tracks, mini-golf and paintball. No access to change rooms, club houses, locker rooms or showers unless they are access to washroom or first aid area.
– Public transit is allowed
– Social gatherings like weddings and funerals can occur, both indoor and outdoor
– Small events outside can be held, such as animal shows, cultural celebrations and fundraisers
Still not allowed:
No amusement parks, movie theaters, playgrounds, water parks, water slides or wave pools in Stage 2.
For more information:
Interview with Mayor Nelson Santos. July 30, 2020
Interview with Town Councillor Thomas Neufeld. July 30, 2020
Interview with Harry Roettele by M.E. Havlik. July 30, 2020
Interview with Jason Martin by M.E. Havlik. July 30, 2020
Photo: Chris Anson