Warden apologizes after suggesting municipal staff ignore N.S. proof-of-vaccination policy

·2 min read
A health department worker in Pennsylvania fills out a vaccination record card before administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to emergency medical workers and health-care personnel on Dec. 29, 2020. Nova Scotia's proof-of-vaccination policy comes into effect Monday, Oct. 4. (Matt Slocum/The Associated Press - image credit)
A health department worker in Pennsylvania fills out a vaccination record card before administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to emergency medical workers and health-care personnel on Dec. 29, 2020. Nova Scotia's proof-of-vaccination policy comes into effect Monday, Oct. 4. (Matt Slocum/The Associated Press - image credit)

A municipal council in Nova Scotia has agreed to ask for proof of vaccination from people entering the local arena after the warden suggested that staff "could break the law" and disregard provincial health rules.

People participating in non-essential activities in Nova Scotia, including attending indoor sporting events, will be required to show they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 starting Oct. 4.

Barrington Warden Eddie Nickerson said earlier this week he didn't feel comfortable getting municipal employees to ask people for proof of vaccination and proposed either closing the Sandy Wickens Memorial Arena to spectators, closing the rink to everyone or simply ignoring the public health regulation.

At Thursday's council meeting, Nickerson said he had changed his mind about not upholding the policy and apologized for making the suggestion.

"I do think that is inappropriate as a warden of a municipality," he said. "I would like to apologize."

Locals ask municipality to fight policy

Council voted unanimously in favour of asking for proof of vaccination, despite concerns raised by a number of local residents who asked the municipality to "take a stand."

Though it's not a criminal offence to disregard the province's proof-of-vaccination requirement, there are steep fines for those who flout the rule. Municipal staff warned council the fines for ignoring health directives are $10,000 for the first offence and $50,000 for the next offence. Councillors and the CAO could also be personally fined, said staff.

Coun. Jodi Crook told the meeting he was against getting the vaccine, but it was a requirement at his workplace.

"I wasn't a fan of it, still not a fan of it," said Crook. "What the government is doing to me is just unethical."

Crook added, however, that the municipality depends on the province for funding.

Coun. George El-Jakl pointed out that the vaccination rate for the tri-county area is 64 per cent, and he had to make "the best decision for the most people."

Another councillor, Shaun Hatfield, said it would be a "miscarriage of democracy" to prevent people who have been vaccinated from using public facilities.

MORE TOP STORIES

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting