C-K COVID cases increase again

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Businesses to remind, not confront, patrons about masks

By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

Sixteen new COVID-19 cases were reported in Chatham-Kent on Friday.

CK Public Health updates the local statistics every weekday at 2:30 p.m.

Ten people were officially recovered within the last 24 hours. Eighty-three cases remain active and four of the individuals are still hospitalized.

The increase in cases comes the same day that Chatham-Kent’s mandatory mask bylaw comes into effect.

Business owners are expected to ensure that every patron who comes into their premises unmasked is provided with a verbal reminder about the city’s bylaw but also the exemptions to the bylaw, said David Taylor, manager of legal services, at a press briefing on Thursday. 

After the verbal remainder has been issued, owners are advised to take no further action that can cause confrontation. They can, however, file a complaint with a bylaw officer.

“We certainly don’t want to be in a situation where a business owner has to get into a confrontation with somebody,” Taylor said. “We wanted to make sure that in drafting the bylaw we didn’t put an onus on businesses to dig into those medical issues because that would just be too much for a business to have to do.”

Taylor added that an enforcement officer could dig into whether or not they believe a patron about their exemption.

READ MORE:  Chatham-Kent mask bylaw has exemptions

Dr. David Colby, Chatham-Kent’s medical officer of health, said other municipalities with mandatory mask bylaws have not seen any trouble so far.

“As far as I’m aware, almost every other municipality that has a mask bylaw has similar kinds of exemptions and it hasn’t been a problem in those communities at least on any kind of large or measurable scale,” he said.

Residents were also reminded that physical distancing remains the number one way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

A mandatory mask bylaw also went into effect for the township of Petrolia on Friday. Sarnia-Lambton is the only other county in the area that saw an increase in active cases. On Friday they reported four new cases which increased their unresolved cases to 13. 

Windsor-Essex has exactly 100 active cases, a significant decrease from last week which saw more than 200. Another workplace was cleared of its outbreak status. Four agricultural outbreaks remain active between Kingsville and Leamington, and one manufacturing outbreak in Windsor. There are also three long-term care home outbreaks still active in the county.

Middlesex-London reported two new cases, but their active caseload remains at 17. Southwestern Public Health, which saw a recent surge in cases from the Low German speaking community has seen a decrease in active cases with 54 left.

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