MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. (KION) The Monterey County Board of Supervisors has voted against implementing an indoor mask mandate across the county.
Supervisors Luis Alejo, Wendy Root Askew and Mary Adams voted in favor of the mandate. John Phillips and Chris Lopez both voted no. The mandate needed 4 votes to pass.
Supervisor Phillips said he had changed his mind since last week's meeting, saying he was concerned about going against Monterey County Health Officer Dr. Edward Moreno. Moreno has said he doesn't think a mandate is necessary right now.
"I have a serious concern whether our numbers justify us overruling our health director moving forward and I am concerned if there's this much resistance, the enforcement of it," said Phillips.
The board did say there were not aware of any other county supervisors in California implementing a mask mandate. They say 28 counties currently have mask mandates, but they were implemented by health officers. However, Supervisor Alejo argued that the county is a tourist hot spot and the mandate would help protect essential workers.
"Dr. Moreno had an opportunity to make his own independent decision, and he chose not to do that," said Alejo. "Now us as a board, as we do on many other issues, are exercising our independent decision-making power to protect our residents."
During public comment, many business owners spoke saying they were concerned about having to enforce the mandate, and how it would affect their employees.
"I've heard from a couple of event planners already that they are reconsidering having events if there is a strict mandate in place," stated Teri Owens, General Manager for Embassy Suites Monterey Bay. "If events are canceled or postponed, many of my food and beverage associates who want to work will not receive very many hours, if any."
Parents also spoke both for and against the mask mandate. Some said that masks are oppressive for kids. Others say masks will help protect younger kids who can't get vaccinated yet.
"We need a mask mandate to get us to the point where our children can get fully vaccinated early this winter," said Carolyn Swanson, who is a Pacific Grove Unified School District School Board Trustee, but spoke on behalf of herself. "Teachers, school staff and students wear masks all day. It's not enough because a majority of cases in schools are [from] community spread."
Supervisors did discuss reducing the mandate from 60 days to 30 days, but it still did not pass.
Root Askew says they will revisit discussions over the mandate if cases continue to rise in the county.
PREVIOUS STORY: The Monterey County Board of Supervisors is discussing implementing an indoor mask mandate across the county this afternoon.
The potential mandate would be for those 2-years-old and older, for all areas of the county. This mandate could potentially see citations administered to those who violate the ordinance. The meeting is being streamed live and can be viewed below.
Lisa Principi will have more on their decision tonight at 5 and 6.