On Friday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said that the indoor mask mandate going into effect Saturday night will not be enforced by the department.
Californians have been going maskless for a month, despite once having the strictest lockdowns in the country. But, due to the spike in COVID-19 cases countrywide, local authorities feel the need to repeal that freedom once again.
According to Fox News, the rule was decided upon on Thursday by the county's Department of Health, requiring residents to mask up indoors no matter if they are vaccinated or not. Dr. Muntu Davis, the county's health officer, stated: "We're not where we need to be for the millions at risk of infection here in Los Angeles County, and waiting to do something will be too late, given what we’re seeing."
Villanueva, however, criticized the move, and said his office will not act on it, since it's "not backed by science, and contradicts the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines." Villanueva went on: "The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (DPH) has authority to enforce the order, but the underfunded/defunded Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will not expend our limited resources and instead ask for voluntary compliance."
"We encourage the DPH to work collaboratively with the Board of Supervisors and law enforcement to establish mandates that are both achievable and supported by science," Villanueva slammed the county's public health department.
Villanueva has his allies within county lines. Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathy Burger tweeted in support, saying: "I am concerned by rising cases, but I don't believe the mask mandate will help efforts to stress vaccine efficacy and compel unvaccinated residents to get vaccinated."
"LA County should remain aligned with the State instead of creating confusion and disagreement at the local level," Burger added.
Only 11 days after California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the reopening of the state and the removal of COVID-19 mandates, the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommended that all residents begin to wear masks again in public indoor spaces, regardless of whether they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, fearing the Delta variant.
County officials urged residents to "wear masks indoors in settings such as grocery or retail stores; theaters and family entertainment centers, and workplaces when you don’t know everyone’s vaccination status."
"Until we better understand how and to who the Delta variant is spreading, everyone should focus on maximum protection with minimum interruption to routine as all businesses operate without other restrictions, like physical distancing and capacity limits," officials wrote via press statement.