The acting medical officer of health for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is instructing all businesses in the region to halt any plans to bring in temporary foreign workers starting Thursday.

The action comes as the southwestern Ontario region grapples with a “significant number of outbreaks at agricultural enterprises.”

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“The community does not have sufficient resources to manage the required self-isolation programs; and the healthcare system overall, and local healthcare system, have limited capacity to manage the surge occurring with the introduction of the Omicron variant,” Dr. Shanker Nesathurai wrote in the letter, issued Wednesday morning.

As a result, Nesathurai said he’s determined that “it is necessary to take further and immediate action to limit the spread of COVID-19” and to protect the health of the community and the health system.

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The instruction is in effect until at least the end of day Feb. 1, though it could be extended. It calls for impacted businesses to immediately cancel, suspend or postpone any arrangements made to facilitate the arrival of temporary foreign workers between Jan. 13 and Feb. 1.

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The letter also warns that failure to comply is an offence under the Reopening Ontario Act and could result in fines, charges, imprisonment and even the “closure of premises.”

A news conference has been scheduled for 10 a.m. ET Wednesday to further discuss the instruction.

More to come.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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