Following the surprise dropping of the planned Los Angeles County mask mandate by the LA County Department of Public Health on Thursday, many local businesses cheered the decision, with many now not having to go through extreme cost cutting plans to avoid losses that the mandate would have caused.
Despite the returned indoor mask mandate being all but certain of happening as late as earlier this week, increased local pressure, a new lawsuit, and a growing number of cities refusing to adhere to or enforcing the mandate all contributed to indoor masking not coming into effect on Friday. LA County Director of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer had the official reason go out on Thursday as a decline of COVID-19 cases, saying “As I noted last week, any indication that the county would soon be moving to the ‘medium’ community level would be a good reason to not move forward with universal indoor masking, which is what we are doing today. We will be pausing and not moving forward at this time.”
However, many who had fought against the possible new mandate noted that Ferrer had been changing around where exactly the mask mandate line was and that they felt like enough pressure had been put on her to announce the masking requirements not happening this week.
“This is an upset victory for all LA County residents who felt like the mandate coming back was wrong,” California policy analyst Elizabeth Schumann told the Globe. “In the last two weeks since the mandate was put on a countdown, more and more people began opposing it. Entire cities opposed it. A lawsuit was filed. Businesses said they would find and use any and all loopholes around this. And look. They won. You don’t see this too often.”
“Ferrer and the Public Health Department also kept moving the goalposts during the last few weeks, at first saying that it would be happening no matter what happened, then saying it might not happen if it stopped being on the ‘high’ threshold level of cases, then said as long as it goes down the mandate won’t be happening. It’s obvious that public outcry scrapped their plans. Residents throughout the county should feel good about this. The people won. For now at least. They may try and change their mind next month. But for now, it worked.”
No mask mandate in LA County this week
Local businesses who feared the mandate also celebrated on Thursday.
“I was looking at layoffs because of the likely decline in business,” said one LA bar owner to the Globe on Thursday. “Now I don’t have to. I’m still worried they may still try and bring it back, but we can survive for now.”
Others noted similar positives.
“On Monday we were looking at putting out outdoor seating and, in our storage room, we have the fake grass and seats all ready to go. We were ready to get it all set up and hopefully not lose money again,” added restaurant co-owner Roberta Chavez in a Globe interview. “Now it’s business as usual again. This is a big sigh of relief. I’m glad they changed their minds and did the right thing. They finally listened to the people.”
However, others did agree that this may only be temporary and that they need to be on the lookout in case they tried to put in a mandate again later in the year.
“We won the battle, but the war is still going on,” continued the bar owner. “This feels a bit like a reprieve rather than a definite end. You can bet every business is going to keep an eye out on this and that pressure will not go down.”
The next COVID-19 new case and hospitalization rate percentages that may cause a change in mandate policy are due next week.
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