Huntington Beach Votes to Ban Mask and Vaccine Mandates

Huntington Beach Votes to Ban Mask and Vaccine Mandates

Huntington Beach Mayor Tony Strickland (C) speaks at a city council meeting at the Civic Center in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Jan. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

9/6/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

In response to lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 mandated by national, state, and local governments including mask wearing and vaccine mandates, the Huntington Beach City Council in Southern California voted 4 to 3 on Sept. 5 against imposing any future such mandates in the city, except for those who have tested positive for COVID-19.
Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark, who agendized the item, said during the council’s meeting that there have been reports of a possible COVID-19 resurgence, which could lead to more mandates.
“The City Council of Huntington Beach should take a stand against government imposing on individual liberties and broadly imposing response measures on individuals that have been proven to have little or no effectiveness,” Ms. Van Der Mark said while reading from the agenda item during the meeting.
The city’s conservative council majority—elected last November—voted in favor of the item, which directs the city manager to return at the city’s next council meeting with a resolution declaring Huntington Beach a “no mask and no vaccine mandate city,” for COVID-19 or any of its variants.
Councilors Natalie Moser, Dan Kalmick, and Rhonda Bolton, the city’s Democrat minority councilors, voted in opposition.
According to the agenda item, businesses could still impose their own regulations, including requiring masks for customers.
Councilman Kalmick spoke strongly against the proposed declaration near the end of the council session, which ran over eight hours—due to not only the COVID mandate issue but a full agenda on a number of controversial issues—and lasted until almost 3 a.m.
Residents look through city council agenda items at the Huntington Beach Civic Center in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Jan. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Residents look through city council agenda items at the Huntington Beach Civic Center in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Jan. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

“None of us are public health experts, none of us are research experts. I’m the only person up here with a science and engineering background. For us to be making public health determinations when we’re a public policy board is wild,” he said.
Councilwoman Bolton echoed some of Mr. Kalmick’s remarks.
“It’s almost 3 a.m. and we’re sitting here talking about COVID, masks and vaccines. Nobody has asked for this. ... The residents, they expect us to do stuff like solve the e-bike issue and deal with homelessness,” she said.
Ms. Van Der Mark said her proposed resolution would protect residents’ personal freedom.
“This is all about individual liberty and standing against government intrusion. Last time when this happened, U.S. residents were actually stopped from enjoying our beaches. We had state troopers with weapons, guarding our beaches,” she said.
Mayor Tony Strickland echoed her remarks.
“It’s important for our city to make a statement, that says, what happened in the past is not going to happen in the future. We’re going to fight hard to make sure the individual freedoms are respected,” he said.
The Huntington Beach city council conducts a meeting at the Civic Center chambers in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Jan. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The Huntington Beach city council conducts a meeting at the Civic Center chambers in Huntington Beach, Calif., on Jan. 17, 2023. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

A number of residents spoke for and against the proposed resolution.
“Why is the resolution necessary for non-existent imaginary COVID restrictions? Aren’t City Council’s supposed to be doing things like fixing roads and building little league stadiums?” one resident of 40 years, and a licensed public health nurse in California, said during the meeting.
Another resident and mother of five children spoke in support of the proposed resolution.
“We should have the choice and the freedom to decide for ourselves whether or not to wear a mask or get the vaccine, and I appreciate [the] proposal,” she said.
According to data from the Orange County Health Care Agency, there has been an increase in COVID-19 cases, but such has not led to an increase in hospitalizations.
As of Aug. 31, the agency reported 60 patients with COVID-19 in hospitals, with 1,053 positive cases and three deaths related to COVID-19 last week.
City News Service contributed to this report.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

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Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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