Novel Coronavirus 2019 (Covid-19) (CDC Image)

MONTEREY COUNTY — After several weeks of discussion, Monterey County Board of Supervisors has approved a countywide indoor face covering ordinance that could begin in late October if certain criteria are met.

Last week the Board delayed final approval of its mask mandate until Tuesday to add language to the ordinance at the request of the Monterey County Hospitality Association. The amendments included additional language to the list of exemptions, which would apply to meetings and conferences.

The new language states that face coverings would not need to be worn when: attending meetings with vaccinated or unvaccinated attendees where all vaccinated persons show proof of vaccination status (two doses of a two-shot vaccine or one dose of a one-shot vaccine) and all unvaccinated persons wear a face covering at all times other than when eating or drinking.

The ordinance’s original language only allowed for an exemption where all persons present show proof of vaccination.

“This language can be added as it is not less stringent than current state requirements,” according to Maia Carroll, the county’s communications coordinator.

In addition, modifications were made regarding enforcement of the ordinance by businesses, now stating that local businesses or entities with indoor facilities must enforce the requirement for their personnel but not customers and the public.

During the Sept. 28 meeting, the amended ordinance passed by a 3-2 vote. Supervisors Wendy Root Askew, Mary Adams and Luis Alejo voted in favor of its adoption, while John Phillips and Chris Lopez dissented from the majority.

Unlike the board’s urgency ordinance that required a 4/5ths vote and failed to pass earlier this month, the new ordinance only needed a majority vote.

The mandate requires 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 some exemptions, including when residents are in their own homes; with family members; alone in a closed room; or taking part in an activity where masks cannot be worn, such as eating or having a medical procedure.

The ordinance takes effect 31 days after adoption (Oct. 29) and is triggered by specific requirements.

According to the language, the indoor face covering rule only applies when Monterey County’s Community Transmission Rate (CTR), as calculated by the CDC, is either “substantial” or “high” on that date, or seven days after the CTR transitions to “substantial” or “high” from “moderate” or “low.”

As of Tuesday, Monterey County’s level of community transmission was rated “substantial.”

The mandate would end either 30 days 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.

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Ryan Cronk is the managing editor for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for South Monterey County and the surrounding communities.


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