Chairwoman of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Kathryn Barger (R) and the Beverly Hills City Council came out against reinstating the indoor mask mandate in Los Angeles County on Monday as health officials are set to make a decision in the coming days.
Barger issued a public statement against the policy, and the Beverly Hills City Council unanimously decided to prohibit using city staffers or resources to help enforce the countywide requirement, should it be renewed.
Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse initiated a special gathering meeting to discuss the city’s options.
“I feel it is our job to lead and I support the power of choice,” Bosse said. “Our job is to be proactive and public about what we believe. This is a united City Council and community that cares about health. We are not where we were in 2020, and now we need to move forward as a community and be part of the solution.”
Supervisor Barger, the lone Republican on the powerful L.A. County Board of Supervisors, sent an open letter to her constituents on Monday, saying that a mask rule could be brought back for the entire county by the end of this week.
“I have not seen any empirical data that conclusively shows that masking mandates make a difference in decreasing or stopping COVID-19 transmission rates,” Barger said in the letter, adding, “I believe masking mandates are polarizing and are unenforceable.”
“We are learning to live through its countless mutations, spikes in infections, and corresponding strains on our hospitals and workforce,” she added. “In order to maintain consistency and public trust, I remain committed to advocating for our county to remain aligned with the state’s COVID-19 public health policies.”
She said a mandate “will not make a meaningful improvement to the underlying systemic healthcare inequities that are the true drivers of inequitable rates of COVID-19 deaths and long-term, negative effects.”
The Board of Supervisors is expected to get an update from Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer on Tuesday. Ferrer previously said that if the county remains in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s high level of virus activity for two consecutive weeks, the indoor mask mandate will return. The two-week threshold comes on Thursday, and the rule would theoretically go into effect on Friday.
Businesses are bracing for the possible return of the mandate, trying to find ways to avoid the rule.
“I never thought I’d be doing this again,” Roberta Chavez, a restaurant co-owner, told the California Globe. “But we are bringing back outdoor seating. …The number of people not wanting to eat somewhere where masking is mandatory is way higher than you’d think. People accepted it early on in the pandemic, but when things improved and masking stayed in place, people stopped coming. We were essentially a take out place and we only survived because of outdoor eating. Take out paid the bills, and outdoor eating paid the employees.”
An anonymous restaurant owner told the outlet, “You can be sure that we will be looking for, and finding loopholes. We did last time and found a way to be largely maskless. It wasn’t easy, but we found a way.”
Julie Hamill, an attorney representing the Alliance of Los Angeles County Parents, recently told the L.A. County Board of Supervisors in a letter that she would file a lawsuit if the mask mandate is reinstated for L.A. school kids. Hamill is requesting that the supervisors take away some of Ferrer’s authority.