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Lambton County says ‘no’ to mandatory masks – again

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Cathy Dobson

Areas of Lambton County will continue to be the only places in Ontario that don’t require face masks in public places.

Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley failed again today at Lambton County council to get enough support for a countywide vote on the issue.

Bradley’s request to debate mandatory face masks was turned down 29-8 in a weighted vote of councillors representing Lambton’s 11 municipalities. Only Bradley, Petrolia Mayor Brad Loosley and Sarnia Coun. Dave Boushy supported the request.

Lambton County voted against mandatory masks on July 8, choosing instead to “encourage and support” their use.

That position is supported by Dr. Sudit Ranade, Lambton’s Medical Officer of Health, who has said mask bylaws create dissention and that individual municipal councils within the county should make their own decisions.

Sarnia, City of Lambton Shores, Town of Petrolia and Village of Point Edward have passed bylaws requiring masks in public, the other municipalities have not.

After the discussion went nowhere Wednesday, Bradley took the rare move of asking county councillors to immediately convene as a public health board, and pass a motion requiring Dr. Ranade to provide weekly COVID-19 updates identifying the municipalities in which residents test positive.

“We’ll be able to see if masking makes a difference,” Bradley said.

Others agreed, including Plympton-Wyoming Mayor Lonny Napper, who said identifying the municipalities with positive cases would “take coffee shop talk away.”

“I think we should do this,” said Petrolia Mayor Brad Loosley. “If there was a problem in the Town of Petrolia, I would want to know.”

Sarnia Coun. Brian White said he supported getting specific geographic information because he believes masking helps.

“I want to see how bylaws across the county are working,” he said.

But others, including Warwick Township Mayor Jackie Rombouts, expressed concern people will avoid COVID-19 testing for fear of being “outed” should they test positive.

At St. Clair Township Mayor Steve Arnold’s urging, county council voted to postpone the discussion on Bradley’s motion until Sept. 16, and asked for a report from Dr. Ranade.


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