Oceanside Joins Coronado, El Cajon in Ignoring New Mask Mandate

Oceanside joins the growing number of San Diego cities defying the state mask mandate by refusing to enforce it.

NBC Universal, Inc.

Coronado and El Cajon leaders said this week if the state wants to enforce the new indoor mask mandate it can use its own resources. On Friday the city of Oceanside joined them.

The mandate won't be enforced at privately owned businesses in Oceanside, and many small business owners who made it through the pandemic are fine with it.

NBC 7's Omari Fleming spoke to the mayors of Coronado and El Cajon about their stance on the indoor mask mandate.

“Life is about choice and respect, so people that want to wear it, I respect them. People that don’t, I also respect them,” business owner Ritchie Barlow said.

Barlow, and friend and fellow small business owner Dave Melzer met at Frankie’s for a drink after work. The bartender wore a mask, but the customers did not.

“It’s nice to have people stand up and have their own position and opinion on it," Melzer said.

Around the corner, at the popular SoCal Trading Company, owner Samantha Sager is  masked.

“It wasn’t anything different or new for us. We did it for a year-and-a-half," Sager said.

Sager wears it more for her customers than herself. She doesn’t mind wearing a face covering but says she and surrounding business owner friends don’t want to force others.

“We were relieved. We’re just going with what people are comfortable with,” Sager said.

The state mask mandate requires people to cover their faces while indoors at public places.

“This is something that each individual business will have to make a decision on their own if they want to implement it or not, but we’re not going to be the mask police for the state of California,“ Oceanside Councilman Christopher Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez, who is also running for Congress, questioned the mandate after he says more than two dozen business owners and residents called his office to complain. He said the City Manager and Police Chief decided there are not enough resources to enforce the mandate.

Rodriguez expects it to be much like when Oceanside was one of the first coastal communities to reopen its beaches after lockdowns. The city was swamped with visitors. 

“If you don’t want to wear a mask, come to the city of Oceanside. There are a lot of businesses that are not requiring it and that’s their decision as a business, and we fully support that," Rodriguez said.

Not everyone agrees with ignoring the state order.

“I think it is important that businesses make their customers wear their masks,” Marine Ingrid Velle said.

Valle has plans this weekend. That won’t change because of the city’s decision.

“I just think now it is common courtesy to wear your mask if you are around other people,” Valle said.

The mask mandate will be enforced in all Oceanside taxpayer-funded buildings, such as libraries and city offices, Rodriguez said.

Contact Us