DEL MAR — The Del Mar City Council during its Oct. 4 meeting no longer supported a proposal to implement citywide vaccine mandates for businesses and events in Del Mar after several council members noted there is no strong support for such measures at this time.
Last month, the Del Mar City Council voted to require that all city staff be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. As part of that discussion, Deputy Mayor Dwight Worden asked to talk about further mandates for businesses to require proof of vaccination for indoor shopping and dining. The call for discussion was supported by Councilmember Dave Druker.
At the time, Worden suggested city staff return with a vaccine mandate policy for Del Mar that was to be modeled after one made by the City of West Hollywood. Worden also had strong comments for those who have decided not to receive one of three available vaccines, one of which has full FDA approval.
“Those who choose not to be vaccinated are the ones that are allowing the virus to stay alive in this country and in our area,” Worden said. “They’re the ones who are allowing it to mutate to new variants and that puts all of us at risk.”
In response to the proposal, residents and business owners submitted an unofficial petition to the council as part of public comment in opposition to additional vaccine mandates.
KC Vafiadis, chair of the Del Mar Village Association, initiated the signature effort.
“Since I had sent that in, another 52 people have reached out and asked to have their name put on that list,” Vafiadis said. “I think we need to respect the opinions of the individuals.”
Vafiadis also said the city should continue following the county guidelines for the ongoing pandemic which has yet to call for a vaccine mandate for indoor businesses.
The rest of the City Council agreed with that sentiment last week.
“I too strongly believe in vaccinations,” said Councilmember Tracy Martinez, a healthcare professional. “I believe they are important to squash this horrific disease and prevent mutations and I do believe in science and the vast majority of science believes the same. But I think that it is difficult for us to ask something more than what the county guidelines or California guidelines are recommending at this time.”
Martinez and the rest of the council acknowledge the pandemic’s ever-changing nature and the need to remain flexible should local guidelines change.
After discussions, Worden made the motion for city staff to return with a city ordinance to require all city council members to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Currently, all council members have publicly acknowledged they have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Councilmember Dan Quirk and Mayor Terry Gaasterland were apprehensive to introduce a requirement for any future council members.
“I don’t know that I’m there on that one yet,” Gaasterland said. “I’m absolutely supportive of this council being required to be vaccinated.”
Despite all of the council acknowledging their vaccination status, a substitute motion was made and subsequently passed unanimously to call for an ordinance to require all current council members to be vaccinated.
Worden voted yes on the motion but was not pleased with how the discussion played out.
“I think that’s a pretty weak message to the public about our level of commitment,” Worden said.