Windsor-Essex health unit asks faith groups to hold services online

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While faith groups are currently allowed to hold services under heavy restrictions in Windsor-Essex, the health unit's top doctor says people should not attend in-person gatherings of any kind.

"Given the continued rise in cases of COVID-19 in our community and the risk to residents of Windsor-Essex, I am not recommending in person gatherings of any kind due to the high risk of disease transmission," Dr. Wajid Ahmed, medical officer of health with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, said in a statement issued on Christmas Eve.

"To keep everyone safe I recommend that faith leaders limit in-person services and opt for virtual services only."

Under the lockdown restrictions in place for the region, a maximum of 10 people are allowed to attend faith services at a time, which includes attendees and staff.

Under the Reopening Ontario Act, organizations and individuals who violate lockdown rules can receive fines ranging from $750 to $100,000, the health unit pointed out.

Earlier this month, several congregations in the region pledged to hold services remotely to stop the potential transmission of COVID-19.

Earlier on Thursday, the health unit announced the deaths of nine more people due to COVID-19, as well as 141 new cases.

The number of people testing positive for COVID-19 in Windsor-Essex has been in the triple digits for 11 consecutive days.