1 in 5 big-box stores inspected receive tickets during COVID-19 enforcement blitz in Windsor

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A provincial COVID-19 enforcement blitz targeting big-box stores has resulted in tickets for nearly one in five businesses inspected in Windsor.

According to preliminary figures from the Ministry of Labour, 97 businesses in Windsor were visited by inspectors over the weekend and 21 tickets and 26 orders were issued.

The ministry could not specify whether these numbers mean that 47 establishments were in non-compliance or if a store that was ticketed also received an order.

The province hasn't named any of the businesses that were sanctioned.

The inspectors were looking for compliance on COVID-19 public health measures as the province remains under a state of emergency and stay-at-home order.

Labour minister Monte McNaughton said on Friday that inspectors would be visiting grocery chains and big box stores to ensure they were following COVID-19 measures around masking, physical distancing and capacity limits.

Big-box and grocery stores are allowed to stay open but at a quarter of their usual capacity.

The weekend blitz also took place in Ottawa, Niagara and Durham. Overall, the most common violations were inadequate screening for COVID-19, violations of capacity limits and lack of safety plans, according to the ministry.

Health unit participates in blitz

According to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), there were 31 local and provincial officers involved in the enforcement, including four from the health unit.

The health unit provided a list of 225 local businesses for officers to prioritize based on previous complaints, warnings and violations.

Local health officers laid one charge against a convenience store in Windsor for violating capacity limits, and written notices of violation were sent to 12 other businesses.

"Additional charges may be issued if compliance is not observed at the reinspection," said WECHU CEO and chief nursing officer Theresa Marentette.

It's unclear whether those infractions are included in the provincial numbers.

The City of Windsor said in a news release Monday that its by-law officers were also visiting locations to ensure compliance. According to the city, its officers handed out five charges for no masking, one charge for no occupancy limit posted and two warnings related to safety plans.