LONDON, ONT. -- A report updating city council on London’s mandatory mask bylaw drew a half dozen delegates arguing against the pandemic measure.

Council’s support for the bylaw was unswayed by the five-minute presentations made by each delegate.

“I think what’s happening in the schools right now amounts to child abuse,” claimed Londoner Sophie Hawkins. “The masking of those children (means) we’re traumatizing a whole generation.”

Other delegates argued the bylaw puts people with medical conditions at risk of harassment for not wearing a mask in public places.

Council approved London’s mask bylaw in July.

It requires face-coverings be warn over the mouth and nose in all publicly accessible indoor spaces by individuals over the age of 11.

There is an exemption for people with medical conditions that inhibit mask wearing.

According to the new staff report, municipal law enforcement officers have “attended 2,006 premises and spoke with 101 individuals, including employees and customers, who were observed not wearing a mask.”

Many of the individuals said they have pre-existing medical conditions.

Municipal bylaw enforcement has issued two $500 fines to date.

“I want us to really think twice about what we are imposing on people,” argued Councillor Michael Van Holst to his colleagues. “If masks were 50 per cent, 20 per cent, or even two per cent effective, maybe we’d have a justification.”

But Councillor Phil Squire pushed back— citing the region’s medical officer of health’s recommendation that a mask bylaw be approved back in July.

“You may say ‘he’s wrong and you shouldn’t agree with him’, but that’s not my job,” said Squire. “My job is not to become a scientist or doctor.”

“I follow the direction and instructions of the medical officer of health.”

Council members made no changes to the mask bylaw.