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Windsor-Essex County Health Unit brings back strict COVID-19 restrictions

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Essex County’s health unit announced Sunday it’s putting capacity restrictions and other strict COVID-19 rules back in place as the region struggles with another surge in cases.

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The restrictions will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday.

The local medical officer of health said that without the restrictions, he fears the COVID-19 case levels could return to the high numbers seen around the same time last year.

“We are very worried that we are already seeing this surge of cases in advance of the holiday season and its associated social gatherings,” Dr. Shanker Nesathurai said in a news release. “Immediate action needs to be taken by all residents to address the known sources of transmission which are social gatherings, both in homes and in the community.”

Following a steady climb in cases over the last month, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has issued an updated letter of instruction outlining restrictions at “key settings associated with COVID-19 transmission.”

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Infections at social gatherings have been identified as “an area of significant concern.”

The measures taking effect on Friday include a limit of 10 people at indoor social gatherings and 25 people outdoors. Bars and restaurants will be limited to 50 per cent of their total capacity.

There will also be added measures for wedding receptions and the social events tied to funerals and religious services, along with a “strict adherence to face covering requirements in all public settings.”

The local announcement follows restrictions recently implemented in other Ontario regions with increasing case counts, the health unit said.

“With the recent surge in cases, we need to act quickly to contain the spread and preserve our public health system capacity so that we can continue to drive our resources toward the critically important vaccination effort,” said health unit CEO Nicole Dupuis. “These additional measures are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. We will continue to review regularly and adjust based on our local data.”

The WECHU has posted the letter of instruction on its website along with a frequently asked questions section.

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