Warwick mayor rejects vaccine passports

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Warwick Mayor Jackie Rombouts, third row on the right, during the Sept. 1 Lambton County council meeting.

Township distances itself from statement

Heather Wright/The Independent

Warwick’s mayor says the province’s ‘vaccine passports’ will create a split society and she wants no part of it while the municipality makes sure it is clear her statement was personal.

Premier Doug Ford says starting Sept. 22, Ontarians will have to prove they are fully vaccinated to do a number of things, including eating indoors at restaurants, going to bars, clubs, sporting events, concerts and strip clubs. There will be no restrictions placed on essentials, like grocery shopping or going into retail stores. Take-out dining will also be permitted for people who choose not to vaccinate.

Rombouts, in a social media post, called the practice discriminatory and said she won’t be revealing her personal health information. She also won’t frequent businesses which ask for proof of vaccination.

The social media post drew a strong response with 4,500 people showing their approval on Twitter.

Rombouts tells The Independent she is not against the vaccine but doesn’t understand the need to keep unvaccinated people separate. “If the vaccine works, and the people who wanted the vaccine are, then they should not have a problem sitting across the room from somebody who is unvaccinated?”

That has already been a concern for some of Rombouts colleagues.

Councillor Todd White, who owns a Watford retirement home, will not be in a room with unvaccinated people. Seniors are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

Rombouts is also a member of county council. Politicians there are expecting to tackle the thorny issue of vaccination mandates Sept. 15. Councillors recently approved a system which would allow councillors to join in person meetings virtually if need be.

For her part, Rombouts says she is standing up for the people in her community who are hurting because of the vaccine. She says parents of teen in her circles are “afraid to sleep” fearing their depressed children will harm themselves.

Her concern for the plight of school children prompted her to meet with the parliamentary assistant for the Education Minister recently. Rombouts says thanked MPP Sam Oosterhoff that vaccines aren’t mandatory “because I think parents, along with their children’s health care providers, should be able to make those choices and do what’s right for their individual children.”

Rombouts adds “I did express on behalf of my community and a number of parents on the community that masks are perhaps not the best tool, and could be more harmful than helpful at this point.” She believes it makes it “difficult to connect with their peers” and engage in classroom discussions.

The mayor added the point of issuing the statement was to “start reasonable dialogue not turn into this divisive, group think where it is us versus them.”

Late Tuesday, Warwick Township issued a release saying the mayor voiced personal opinions and the township continues to follow COVID-19 rules .