MONTEREY COUNTY — Monterey County Board of Supervisors has moved forward with a countywide indoor face covering ordinance, which could take effect in late October.
Last week the board introduced language for the mask mandate and met on Tuesday for approval. However, due to amendments to the language as approved by the board in a 3-2 vote, the ordinance will now come back for final adoption at the next meeting on Sept. 28.
Unlike the board’s urgency ordinance that required a 4/5ths vote and failed to pass earlier this month, this new ordinance only needs a majority vote.
Supervisors Wendy Root Askew, Mary Adams and Luis Alejo are in favor of the ordinance, while John Phillips and Chris Lopez are against.
According to Communications Coordinator Maia Carroll, the supervisors have cited the protection of younger children who cannot be vaccinated and proactive measures to prevent another virus surge as reasons for wanting to adopt such an ordinance.
The ordinance would require all residents over the age of 2, both in cities and unincorporated areas, to wear face coverings in public indoor settings, regardless of vaccination status.
There are, however, some exemptions, including when residents are in their own homes; with family members; alone in a closed room; taking part in an activity where masks cannot be worn, such as eating or having a medical procedure; or where all persons present show proof of vaccination.
In addition, the mandate does address a situation for parents of young children who may have difficulty keeping masks in place.
The mandate would begin 31 days after adoption (in this case, Oct. 29) and is triggered by specific requirements.
According to the ordinance, the indoor face covering rule only takes effect when Monterey County’s Community Transmission Rate (CTR) is either “substantial” or “high,” as calculated by the CDC. The mask requirements would be triggered seven days after the county’s CTR transitions from “moderate” or “low” to “substantial” or “high.”
As of Tuesday, Monterey County’s level of community transmission was rated “high.”
The mandate would end either following the transition of the county’s CTR from “substantial” or “high” to “moderate” or “low,” or upon order of the supervisors, unless renewed or extended.
Violations of the ordinance would be subject to an administrative citation, Carroll said.
Businesses and entities with indoor facilities would be required to enforce the ordinance and post information about the requirement for the public.