Warwick residents won’t be forced to wear a mask to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
Councillor Todd White’s motion to put a mandatory mask bylaw in place was defeated by a vote of 4-1.
White called the proposed bylaw “an ounce of prevention” as we head into fall, when there is more chance of illness.
“People say to me we have had only one case in community I believe it’s true – but one case…grows very quickly….that person who is infected may not even know and may be infecting others,” says White who owns Brookeside Retirement Living in Watford.
Councillor Jerry Westgate seconded the motion so it could be discussed. But he didn’t support the move even though two days ago he did.
“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it the last two days…I guess I’ve come to the conclusion in our area maybe we don’t – there aren’t very many people, and not very much chance of getting COVID,” he told councillors.
Westgate personally wears a mask but worries many who do have the on, don’t wear them properly, limiting their effectiveness. And he says if there is a mandatory mask bylaw, there would have to be penalties.
“How are we going to enforce it? Leave it up to the stores themselves to enforce it, or the churches or whatever?”
Mayor Jackie Rombouts also voted against a mandatory bylaw saying she didn’t want to force anyone to wear a mask. She said she makes her decisions based on the advice of Lambton’s medical officer of health.
Dr. Sudit Ranade has said in rural areas with low population there is very little community spread and most COVID-19 cases can be traced back to close contact.
“As Councillor White says we are at a low point in this epidemic – if Dr Ranade recommendation to community changes, because of the way this disease changes…we need to revisit this,” Rombouts added.
Lambton County council will revisit a mandatory mask bylaw across the region Sept. 2.