Sarnia mayor’s push for mandatory masks across Lambton County falls short

Despite a last-minute protest, a new bylaw requiring people to wear masks at indoor public settings due to the COVID-19 pandemic came into effect Friday across Sarnia.

Tiffany Caughy and Jamie Caughy, 12, leave Lambton Mall while wearing masks during the first day of the city's new mandatory mask bylaw on Friday July 31, 2020 in Sarnia, Ont. (Terry Bridge/Sarnia Observer)

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Despite a last-minute protest, a new bylaw requiring people to wear masks at indoor public settings due to the COVID-19 pandemic came into effect Friday across Sarnia.

But another push by the city’s mayor to implement a similar rule throughout Lambton County appears to have fallen short.

Mike Bradley asked his fellow county councillors Thursday via email “if they have evolved in their position and would support a masking bylaw county-wide.” A vote on a bylaw in early July fell short, but Bradley was asking for nine councillors to petition for a special meeting to revisit the issue. The deadline was Friday at 4 p.m., but Bradley said only one mayor changed their mind.

A sign at one of the entrances to Lambton Mall reminds shoppers about the city’s new bylaw on mandatory masks, which came into effect on Friday July 31, 2020, in Sarnia. (Terry Bridge/Sarnia Observer) Terry Bridge / Terry Bridge/The Observer

However, one Lambton County town is considering making the move on its own. Petrolia announced Friday it is considering introducing a mandatory mask bylaw but wanted to hear from its residents before coming to a final decision.

In a statement, the town said it’s been receiving several inquiries about the issue and its stance “is one of education and implementation,” but council, staff and its emergency control group are “preparing to implement mandatory mask wearing in all indoor public spaces.” A survey – available at bit.ly/318vPMu – will be open until Thursday at 10 a.m. and the results will be brought to the following week’s council meeting.

As for the local caseload, Lambton public health said 15 new cases were being reported Friday night, all close contacts of cases reported earlier this week. The cases are “linked to a few of the same families, predominantly in a rural community, but with connections to family members in urban communities,” Lambton public health said in a statement. The families were told to self-isolate, officials said.

Before the announcement, the region had 302 cases.

Dr. Sudit Ranade, Lambton’s medical officer of health, said earlier this week there’s a concern with almost all businesses reopening that people will also think they should be able to have “lots of social interactions” and that will lead to more positive tests.

“People are being more social and that is driving a lot of new cases. We haven’t been able to link it back to a specific party or anything, but I think the issue is increased social behaviour,” he said.

One more person also recovered, raising the total to 265. There were 12 active cases as of Friday afternoon, one more than previously reported, and 25 people have died but none since early June.

Of the 16,928 test results received to date, 1.8 per cent have returned positive for COVID-19, public health said.

@ObserverTerry

tbridge@postmedia.com

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