Huntington Beach City Council votes to ban COVID-19 mandates in city

The Huntington Beach City Council narrowly voted Wednesday to approve a declaration to ban universal mask and COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the city.

The declaration passed with a 4-3 vote. The meeting adjourned at 2:48 a.m.

There was an exception to the mask and vaccine mandate rules. Those who have already tested positive for COVID-19 would not have to follow the mask and vaccine bans.

Mayor Pro Tem Gracey Van Der Mark introduced the motion at the Huntington Beach City Council meeting on Tuesday night. The approval of the declaration essentially makes Huntington Beach a no mask and no vaccine city.

In the declaration, Van Der Mark said in regard to mask mandates imposed at City Hall and other parts of the city in 2020 and 2021 "unnecessarily limited the freedoms of the citizens of Huntington Beach -- even those who were not around anyone who tested positive for COVID-19 or at risk of any exposure."

COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Orange County, according to data from the Orange County Health Care Agency. It has not led to an increase in hospitalizations.

As of Thursday, the Orange County Health Care Agency reported 60 patients with COVID-19 are in hospitals. There were 1,053 positive cases and three deaths related to COVID-19 reported last week.