New provincial measures spark frustration, confusion in Windsor-Essex

·4 min read
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced new public health measures on Friday that tighten the stay-at-home order already in place and include new restrictions. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced new public health measures on Friday that tighten the stay-at-home order already in place and include new restrictions. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press - image credit)

Some Windsorites say they're feeling angry, confused and frustrated by the latest round of COVID-19 restrictions in Ontario, saying the new rules don't address the root causes of the surge in COVID-19 cases.

"I definitely think the whole province got it wrong," said Shawn LeBlanc, a realtor in Windsor, in response to the strengthened stay-at-home order announced by the Ontario government on Friday.

"We are regressing to a point where it just makes no sense for most of the things that are happening and what we're allowed to do and what we aren't allowed to do never seem to line up," LeBlanc said.

"I don't understand. It shouldn't be stay-at-home. It should be, 'stay apart and don't force people to stay inside in front of their computers now force them to get outside and get some exercise,'" he said.

On Friday, Premier Doug Ford's government announced several new measures intended to help address the third COVID-19 wave.

"I've never shied away from telling you the brutal, honest truth," Ford said on Friday. "We're losing the battle between the variants and vaccines ... We're on our heels."

Two of the measures — closing playgrounds, giving police the power to question anyone outside their home under threat of a $750 fine — have been halted amid a groundswell of outrage.

A stay-at-home order in the province has been extended until at least May 20.

John Tregaskiss said he's happy to see the provincial government roll back restrictions on playgrounds to allow their use.

Shawn LeBlanc, a realtor in Windsor, says people should be encouraged to go outside and distance and exercise, not be locked at home.
Shawn LeBlanc, a realtor in Windsor, says people should be encouraged to go outside and distance and exercise, not be locked at home.(Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

"Closing the parks was a horrible decision and I'm really happy that they've backtracked on that," he said.

But he disagrees with closing down small businesses while keeping big box stores open, saying it might impose unintended consequences.

"I think a lot of the statements that the government is making right now are very contradictory to what is good for us," Tregaskiss said. "Locking people in their homes while you can work on a shift with so many strangers, closing down small businesses when mega corporations are allowed to make major profits. It's basically a recipe for inflation."

John Tregaskiss, the owner of Bright Child Montessori, says he was able to operate his school safely and opposes the shutdown of schools.
John Tregaskiss, the owner of Bright Child Montessori, says he was able to operate his school safely and opposes the shutdown of schools.(Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

"I understand that this virus is real. I understand that it's a major risk to our population. But so are these other side effects that are happening from these lockdowns," he added.

As the owner of Bright Child Montessori, Tregaskiss said he was able to operate his school safely and opposes the shutdown of schools.

"We do temperature checks at the door safely and the children involved have been extremely healthy. We spend a ton of time outside and the families have all been extremely happy with the way we've been handling this entire process. And we have had absolutely no health issues at our school. And I think there's a lot of things that schools could put in place to make it safer," he said.

Kristin Gomes says it doesn't make sense to her that worship services are limited while people can freely shop in big box stores.
Kristin Gomes says it doesn't make sense to her that worship services are limited while people can freely shop in big box stores.(Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

"I just think it's really important that we open our schools back up, we open up our recreational activities," he said.

Resident Kristen Gomes also wants to see schools open up again.

"These children are just suffering so greatly, just mental health wise. They need human interaction. We all need human interaction around us," she said.

Gomes also said it doesn't make sense to her that worship services are limited while people can freely shop in big box stores.

"The same amount of people that can enter the LCBO down the road, which conveniently profits our government, is the same amount in my large church sanctuary. Like these are just there's so much hypocrisy in these lockdowns that I just don't [understand]. It's just not making sense at this point," she said.

Asked about the potential for confusion surrounding the quickly evolving rules, Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex, acknowledged it can be challenging for people to keep up with what's allowed and what's prohibited.

He encouraged the public to visit the health unit's website to get the latest information, but said regardless of the changing rules, the core guidance, including masking and social distancing, stays the same.

"The bottom line — always go back to some of the basic public health principles, so that's what we continue to reinforce. That would never change," he said at the health unit's daily briefing on Monday.