As Los Angeles County health officials are expected to announce Thursday whether an indoor mask-wearing mandate will go back into effect, several cities in the county have announced they will not enforce a new mask order.
The cities of Beverly Hills, El Segundo, Pasadena, and Long Beach have each announced they will not enforce an indoor mask mandate if one is implemented.
“My City Council colleagues and I strongly believe the decision to wear a mask should be the choice of the individual and should not be imposed by L.A. County,” El Segundo Mayor Drew Boyles said in a statement Wednesday. “Individuals should review the data available and consider their own circumstances and make their own decisions about wearing a mask. Businesses need to consider the various agencies that regulate their businesses as part of deciding how they will react to a potential change to mask requirements.”
The El Segundo City Council voted unanimously against enforcing a new mask mandate in a special meeting Tuesday night.
The Beverly Hills City Council held a similar vote Monday night, determining it would not enforce a mask order, KABC-TV reported. Interestingly, Beverly Hills was among the first cities in L.A. County to adopt an outdoor mask mandate in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Deadline noted.
The cities of Long Beach and Pasadena, which each operate their own independent health departments, also announced Tuesday they will not enforce a county-wide mask mandate.
Rising coronavirus cases in Los Angeles County prompted health officials to entertain the possibility of a renewed mask mandate. Los Angeles County Health Director Barbara Ferrer warned that an indoor mask mandate may be needed to slow the spread of the virus after the county entered the high COVID-19 community level on July 14, based on criteria from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
But county government officials are on the record opposing a renewed mask mandate.
Supervisor Kathryn Barger said Monday she does not support a mandatory mask policy.
“I am not questioning the effectiveness of wearing a mask,” Barger told KABC. “I’m questioning the effectiveness of making a mandate and telling people that they have to. I think it has an opposite effect and people will choose to defy.”
At Tuesday’s county board meeting, Supervisor Janice Han said a mask mandate would be “very divisive.”
“I honestly believe there are a significant number of the population who are not willing to accept mask mandates at this point,” Hahn said. “And many of them, the ones that have contacted me, pointed out that we do have more tools now than we had at the beginning of the pandemic.”
On Wednesday, the county reported 7,316 new cases and 20 new deaths. There are currently 1,280 COVID-19 hospitalizations, and the county had a case positivity rate of 16.2%.