Benicia City Council debates changing mask mandate, decides to keep in place, will review again on Dec. 7

The Council’s August 24 Mask Mandate remains in place for now

By Roger Straw, November 18, 2021
Benicia Mayor Steve Young

Benicia Mayor Young reported on last night’s City Council meeting that “Council decided not to change the mask requirements but to continue with the same metrics.”

The mandate, he continued, “will be reviewed again at the Dec 7 meeting.  If our 7-day case rates stay below high or substantial for another two weeks, the mandate will be dropped.”

The Mayor agreed with the Benicia Independent and many throughout the community that the City should be wary of dropping the mandate before the holidays and onset of winter.  “I was urging to wait through the holidays,” he wrote.

Dr. Richard Fleming agreed: “While the council agreed to continue the current mask mandate until their December 7 meeting, there appeared to be a desire by some to lift the mandate soon if the current case counts stay where they are for two more weeks.

“I feel strongly,” he continued, “that such a step would be premature and would risk opening the door to more viral spread.  I wrote the Council this morning (see text here), to explain why I think they should reassess the basis on which they decide whether to retain or remove the mask mandate, based on scientific evidence.”

Dr. Fleming added that “Many city residents called in to offer their opinions, and the vast majority were in favor of retaining the mandate until the pandemic has subsided significantly.  A number of callers spoke of the likelihood of a winter surge in cases due to colder weather and holiday gatherings.”

Council rejected a motion by Councilmember Lionel Largaespada to ease the metrics governing the mandate, which would have basically done away with the citywide mask mandate at this time.  Largaespada’s motion died for lack of a second.

Mayor Young was prepared to bring a motion to allow local businesses to voluntarily permit customers to enter maskless if 100% of employees and customers show proof of vaccination.  Young wrote, “The idea generated over 100 form letters of virulent opposition, and were evidently persuasive to council who did not support it.”  Sensing no support, Young chose not to offer the motion, and joined the majority in support of the City’s previously agreed upon mandate metrics – requiring 30 consecutive days below the CDC’s SUBSTANTIAL transmission level (7-day case rate).

For Benicia’s current and recent 7-day case rates, see

No final vote was required on maintaining the status quo.  As Mayor Young wrote, “Since we weren’t changing existing policy it didn’t require a motion.”

Richard Fleming, M.D.

>> For an important analysis of Council’s discussion, see “Open Letter to Benicia City Council: Dr. Richard Fleming on mask mandate“.