Huntington Beach is moving ahead to likely declare itself a “no mask and no vaccine mandate” city, preemptively taking a stand ahead of any future orders from health agencies.
Councilmember Gracey Van Der Mark created the proposal. After a 4-3 approval vote from the City Council, the city manager will return with a resolution at the next council meeting for formal adoption.
“This is all about individual liberty and standing against government intrusion,” Van Der Mark said.
Due to the spread of a new COVID-19 variant, the proposal aims to get ahead of “additional discussion of possible new broad (universal) mask-wearing mandates and pushes for vaccination boosters.”
Councilmember Dan Kalmick spoke at length against the proposal, questioning why the city was making public health determinations. He added that Huntington Beach allows people to do as they please with masks and vaccines already.
“There are no rumblings of mask or vaccine mandates,” Kalmick said.
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Councilmember Rhonda Bolton called the proposal a massive waste of time. “People already have the freedom to do what they want to do.”
Mayor Tony Strickland, who voted for the proposal, said the shutdowns during the pandemic damaged the economy. “I think it’s important for the city of Huntington Beach to say no more, no more in Huntington Beach,” he said.
An exception to the rule would be for those who have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the proposal. Van Der Mark said businesses would still have the right to require masks and vaccines.
“If a business would like to ask for people to wear masks and be vaccinated and show vaccine cards, they should be entitled to do so themselves,” Van Der Mark said, “but that should not be imposed on every citizen.”