SARNIA, ONT. -- As more municipalities pass mandatory mask bylaws, there’s growing pressure on Lambton County to do the same.

St. Thomas, Petrolia and Chatham-Kent are among the latest to vote for mandatory masks, joining Sarnia and a host of other communities in southwestern Ontario, but Lambton remains a holdout.

County Warden Bill Weber, who also serves as mayor of Lambton Shores - including the tourism hotspot of Grand Bend, which attracts tens of thousands of visitors each week - said he believes masks should be a personal responsibility.

“Masks are one part in a number of things. Hand washing is always the number one thing that the health experts talk about. Should we be mandating washing your hands? I guess it means there’s personal responsibility there and I wish people would do that and follow that without us having to make a law to say ‘this is what you should do.’”

Speaking in Sarnia Tuesday, where she announced $500,000 for local tourism and culture initiatives, Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Minster Lisa MacLeod said it’s hard to say to how long COVID-19 protocols will be in place.

“It’s very difficult to predict. We’re in this for an indeterminate period of time based on a vaccine which we’re hearing lots of stories about...I’ve been very proud to see that we’re taking it seriously. Wearing a mask is not part of an ideological debate, and we care as Canadians to look after one another and ourselves. There’s a great deal of personal responsibility.”

In the meantime, Mike Bradley, the mayor of Sarnia, has expressed concerns about Lambton’s lack of a mask bylaw.

He said in a statement Tuesday that he plans to ask Lambton County Council to reconsider a mandatory mask bylaw, which it voted down last month.

“That leaves the only option regrettably under the Rules of Order is to bring a Notice of Reconsideration on the Mandatory Masking Bylaw to the regular county council meeting ‪on Sept. 2‬, which unfortunately is weeks away. Lambton County now is the only region/county in the province without a mandatory masking bylaw.”‬

Whether through a bylaw or a public health instruction, all counties in the London region except Lambton now have some form of mandatory mask regulations in place.