The regional medical officer of health for Windsor-Essex says everyone “has to be more responsible” after Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens was caught breaking COVID-19 restrictions at a restaurant last week.
In response to a photo posted to social media of Dilkens sitting at a table with seven others at Nico Taverna, medical officer of health Dr. Wajid Ahmed said the pandemic has changed his personal actions and thinks everyone needs to do their part.
“[My life] and our staff’s lives have been impacted by [COVID-19] significantly, we are not doing what we are doing before. It’s a change. I think all of us need to show, and lead, by example,” said Ahmed. “We have to be responsible.”
On Nov. 18, when the region was in the province’s protect — or yellow — category, Dilkens was pictured having dinner with a group that exceeded the six-person limit.
Just hours earlier, Dilkens was among mayors from the region who called for a “zero tolerance approach” to enforcement of COVID-19 regulations.
But since local health unit staff were not on site to witness the infraction, Ahmed said, the mayor will not be charged.
“It is very difficult for us to charge someone when the officer is not on site to observe the infraction,” Ahmed said.
“Looking at just the pictures, I know the mayor has already taken that step to acknowledge and accept, but even the authenticity of some of these [pieces of] evidence is sometimes it comes into question,” he said.
“If our staff were on site and they noticed that infraction they probably would have issued a ticket.”
Living a COVID ‘nightmare’
Since March, Ahmed said he and Theresa Marentette, the health unit’s chief nursing officer, have been “living and breathing … I want to call it a nightmare, not a dream, of COVID pandemic.”
As a result, he says he thinks about his own actions and how they impact his family or his community.
“We have to do what is best for me, what is best for my family and what is best for my community and all of those thoughts need to come into play,” he said.
“And if I’m not following any of these measures how it will impact the rest of the community — if I get sick, if I get infected, what would happen?”
Dilkens, Orr, Harcus make donations
Dilkens admitted to the infraction Monday. He has not received a ticket or a notice of bylaw infraction, but he said he will make a donation of equivalent value to Windsor Goodfellows. The amount is $750.
Dilkens is pictured sitting beside his wife and across the table from Gordon Orr, the CEO of Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island.
In a statement to CBC News, Orr said, “It was an error on my part to attend a gathering over six. I take responsibility for that and as a consequence, I, like Mayor Dilkens, will be making a $750 donation to my charity of choice: Maryvale Adolescent & Family Services.”
Tish Harcus, a brand ambassador for Canadian Club Whisky, was also in the photo and has said she will make a donation to Hiatus House Windsor.
The others in the photo have not yet been identified.