Future COVID-19 orders may soon become ‘unenforceable’ in Bakersfield

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Any future coronavirus-related orders could soon become “unenforceable” in Bakersfield — but it all depends on the City Council’s vote on the resolution scheduled for Wednesday, October 11.

Ward 3 Council Member Ken Weir introduced the resolution, which was then drafted by City Attorney Virginia Gennaro and her office. Gennaro told 17 News the office modeled its proposal after other cities like Odessa, Texas, where it was adopted, and Huntington Beach, California, where a similar proposal is pending.

Council Member Weir said banning the mandates is entirely about personal choice and the belief that they are “unjustified” by a “tyrannical government.”

“People have a choice, they will make the decision for themselves, the best decision for their family, and in my opinion, the choice is the best decision for our community,” Weir said in a Zoom interview.

However, Weir repeatedly avoided answering whether all mandates are off the table for him, saying only, “That’s what I’m trying to move away from, the mandates. It’s about choice.”

A choice, in particular, over one’s medical decisions.

The motion says Bakersfield residents, as well as businesses and commerce, “suffered immeasurable harm” when the mandates were implemented during the height of the pandemic.

When asked where he found evidence of such harmful outcomes, Weir said the city’s remaining closed businesses speak for themselves.

,[During lockdown] Restaurants were closed, small businesses all over the place were closed,” Weir explained. “It was a tragedy. But no one was paying attention to it, well, if they had a choice, what would they do? And that’s what we’re trying to say [with the resolution],

Meanwhile, some council members are questioning the timing of the proposal.

“It’s been a while since we’ve had a conversation about COVID, so it definitely caught me by surprise,” said Ward 1 Council Member Eric Arias.

“Frankly, this is a big issue that has no place in city government,” Arias said.

When Arias was asked about the potential benefits of the proposal, he laughed. And on the use of some adjectives on pandemic mandates in the resolution, such as “injustice”, he described them as “buzzwords”.

Arias said such a policy would be a distraction from other city challenges like homelessness and public safety, and she argued that the mandates Weir opposes are the same precautions that helped us recover from the pandemic.

“It’s because of the precautions we took early on that we can go out, socialize, work without wearing a mask,” Arias said.

Jenny Huh of 17 had a full conversation with Weir regarding the guidelines for the proposed resolution.

huh: “So what about the guidelines? Doctors and medical experts, what is their role in all this?”
dam: “I can tell you that the guidelines outline where people should go when they vote. They should do their research, they should do their homework, then they should make their personal decision.
huh: “So there can be guidelines, but nothing should be imposed on people, is what you are saying?”
dam: “There are already guidelines in place. If people choose to read them, that’s fine. This is their choice. If they choose not to do so, that’s okay too.”

17 News spoke with Dr. Glenn Goldis for medical information.

“I would recommend to lawmakers that they consider the importance of the science behind this recommendation,” the doctor said. “Although sometimes it’s hard to prove, I think most of the time you want to err on the side of human safety.”

Dr. Goldis said it is difficult to tell how many more lives could have been lost without statewide mandates.

Huh questioned Weir on the potential liabilities of the resolution.

huh: “For those who may be concerned about what kind of liabilities such a solution might bring, I’m curious to know if any of those concerns are on your mind.
dam: “I’m not exactly sure whose liabilities you’re talking about, but elections should never be liabilities.”

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