After spending more than seven hours on an agenda item last Tuesday (May 5) to rescind four of the county’s public health orders including the wearing of a face mask or face covering, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors voted to continue the item to 1 p.m. Friday, May 8. After approximately seven more hours of discussion and public comment on May 8, the board voted unanimously to rescind three orders and amend one to be in line with the state. 

The motion made and passed was to rescind three public health orders and amend the local school order keeping K-12 schools closed but allowing higher education and vocational schools to be in line with the state’s order. The county rescinded the order requiring face masks or face coverings but strongly recommends the wearing of face masks or face coverings and six feet of social distancing when practical and within reason. The prior orders regarding short-term rentals and golf course operations are rescinded and in alignment with state orders.  

The board decided to continue the item until Friday, May 8 due to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s anticipated announcement on Thursday regarding the state’s phased reopening. 

Third District Supervisor Chuck Washington, who represents Idyllwild, said that if a business feels they need to require a face mask, then they have the right to do so. 

The board also voted to adopt a best practices framework to guide the development for reopening Riverside County businesses. The newspaper will report on that as soon as more information is available.  

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting on Friday, May 8. Image courtesy of the County of Riverside

The item to rescind the four orders was originally brought forward by Supervisor Karen Spiegel and Board Chair V. Manuel Perez. Spiegel reiterated her reasoning on May 8 for bringing forth the item.

“I brought this forth because we need to streamline,” said Spiegel. “We need to get our businesses open.”

Just like the May 5 meeting, Friday’s meeting brought a mix of public comments in favor and against rescinding the four orders. The public comments went on for hours each day (May 5 and 8), giving those in attendance and watching from home the ability to hear arguments from both sides. 

Some speakers did think that the item had to do with reopening Riverside County. It did not. 

During Friday’s meeting, Fifth District Supervisor Jeff Hewitt made a motion to get rid of all of the governor-imposed restrictions. The motion did not receive a second, which is required for a vote. 

“I will not be complicit in following the governor’s orders anymore … We have a lot more power than we think we do,” said Hewitt. 

The supervisors were in agreeance on the need to push back against the governor’s orders. The concern was if they were to get rid of all the restrictions that the county would not receive state funding. 

The county is looking to join with other surrounding counties to push back, mentioning there is power in numbers.