DEL MAR — The Del Mar City Council extended COVID-19 pandemic relief measures allowing temporary changes in signage, parking and liquor laws for businesses during its Jan. 26 special meeting.
The council also had a brief, but tense discussion about the idea of a potential vaccine mandate, and passed a resolution encouraging its residents and businesses to follow current public health orders.
At Wednesday’s meeting, the council extended the March 1, 2022 expiration dates for all COVID-related permits issued and the relaxed temporary measures that were put in place to allow businesses to keep operating. The new expiration date for these extensions will be Sept. 30, 2022.
The resolution, which was brought forward by Mayor Dwight Worden and Councilmember David Druker, aimed to address the Omicron variant and to review what actions the city has taken thus far to support businesses and the community.
The council received a few public comments, including one from Dr. Don Mosier, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute, who emphasized the omicron variant is just as serious as the previous variants of COVID-19.
“I emphasize how unique our population is and how many people who are unvaccinated visit Del Mar every day. This is not the same situation as the County of San Diego, this is a unique situation for Del Mar, and I strongly am advocating for a unique solution to address this problem,” Mosier said.
Druker emphasized the fact that Del Mar has a huge population of visitors to its beaches, the Del Mar Fairgrounds and the San Diego County Fair, which puts it in a unique position when it comes to the spread of COVID-19.
“We are just telling our restaurants and retailers and the citizens of Del Mar… we’re just saying hey, please follow the rules,” Druker said.
Other public speakers weighed in on the idea of a vaccine mandate, with some speakers encouraging it and others strongly urging against it. Councilmember Terry Gaasterland made a motion for the city to continue to follow county and state health orders, implying that they will not create a vaccine mandate unless the state requires them to.
“The discussion that we’re about to have to mandate vaccines – this is an explosive issue… to somehow sneak it in on this agenda without identifying it on the agenda when the attempt by some is to discuss vaccination mandate, I think that’s trying to violate the spirit of what public and open meetings are all about,” Quirk said.
Worden said he wants the council to consider a vaccination requirement for “indoor public spaces and restaurants and businesses” to improve safety for a particularly vulnerable portion of the population.
The other councilmembers, however, reiterated that they should follow the county’s guidelines and not move forward with an agenda discussion on a potential vaccine requirement.