Goleta is the latest municipality to order mask-wearing against the COVID-19 virus for all residents, a new regulation that took effect as of the unanimous City Council vote Tuesday night. Essential businesses must prevent customers from entering who are mask-less, the resolution states, as well as provide them for workers.
Some councilmembers were wary of taking a step the county had yet to make. “The virus doesn’t respect borders,” Councilmember Roger Aceves observed, saying it was up to public health to make such declarations countywide. “If the county can’t coordinate something like this, how will it coordinate the reopening?” he asked. Goleta would not be alone, City Manager Michelle Greene replied; Santa Barbara had made the call earlier, and Lompoc and Santa Maria were discussing it.
Several public speakers pitched the pros and cons of the masks issue. Four — including Lee Heller with the S.B. County Mask Network, who stated thousands had been sewn already — argued that wearing masks kept everyone safe, especially workers in essential businesses such as grocery stores who shouldn’t have to encounter bare-faced customers. Kristen Miller with the Goleta Chamber of Commerce noted the group had already provided 10,000 masks free of charge and was in favor of them — “We like masks,” she told the council — but businesses were hurting in the COVID economy and another requirement was an added burden.
As with other COVID regulations, enforcement was expected to be largely dependent on people’s self-protective instincts. It seemed clear that California would reopen only with people cooperating, said Councilmember Kyle Richards. “With this resolution, we need to make sure masks are available,” he said, encouraging staff to work with Heller’s network. Richards also noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that wearing a cloth face covering helped to slow the spread of the virus and that the city’s new rule was not alone on a scientific limb.