Business owners and others affected by the COVID-19 shutdown in Leamington and Kingsville gathered on Tuesday to stress the need to reopen the small communities.
The communities are the only two left in Canada not moving forward to Stage 2 of reopening, due to the high rates of COVID-19 in the agricultural sector in those regions.
"Take us off the bench," said Mayor of Kingsville Nelson Santos, outside of the Carnegie Arts and Visitors Centre where the gathering took place.
Nelson said without immediate reopening layoffs are coming and there will be irreparable damage to his community.
Leamington Mayor Hilda MacDonald echoed those statements, saying that having been a small business owner herself, she knows that she would be scared to death being in the shoes of local business owners today.
Tangles Hair Spa Inc. co-owner Jodie Scherer said the past few months have been a "roller coaster" of emotions, especially when the news came out that her region wouldn't be opening into Stage 2.
"I guess a line in the sand was drawn when other parts of our region were opening," said Scherer, whose been doing hair for 26 years.
Scherer is unsure if her business can survive past another month of being closed and hopes that the demands being made by her community, which include financial assistance from the government, are heard as they might help her business survive.
"It's emotional to think of...I built this," she said. "It takes a lot of years to get on top and I was feeling pretty good until we'd been hit, we need to get out of this."
While she said she's happy other businesses can open, she understands that locals may not want to wait for her to reopen and will commute to nearby regions for their services.
"Why wait for me when you can go across town to someone else?" she said.
The province decided last week to move forward with a regional reopening of Windsor-Essex, with Ontario Premier Doug Ford asking residents "to be patient."
Since the City of Windsor and surrounding areas moved into Stage 2 last week, nearly 200 new COVID-19 cases were reported by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit. All but a handful of the new cases were in workers in the agri-farm sector. Six workplaces in Leamington and Kingsville are currently under a COVID-19 outbreak.
On Tuesday, before the Canada Day holiday, Ford made no indication of reopening plans for the communities.
Business owners are calling for an immediate Stage 2 reopening as well as financial aid and a marketing stimulus package from the government among other things.