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A discarded mask litters the parking lot at Surfrider Beach in Malibu. Scott Steepleton/Surfside News
Scott Steepleton, Editor
3:26 pm PDT May 14, 2021

In a major reversal from the end of March when U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky nearly broke down in tears over the “impending doom” she felt as people pushed back on masks, Walensky on Thursday gave the OK for some to ditch face coverings almost everywhere they go.

“Fully vaccinated people can resume activities without wearing a mask or physically distancing,” an upbeat Wolensky announced.

So, why are there still electronic message boards throughout Malibu saying face masks are required? And why is City Hall still closed but for appointments?

The CDC guidance comes with the proviso that it doesn’t supersede state and local rules and regulations — and neither California nor Los Angeles County have updated their health orders.

L.A. County Department of Public Health officials acknowledge the new federal guidance, which coincided with an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to children as young as 12 with parent approval.

However, county officials say they and the state will review the recommendations “in order to make sensible adjustments.”

“In the interim, please note that fully vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask when indoors around other fully vaccinated people, or outside in uncrowded areas,” according to the county. “When at businesses and in crowded venues, both indoors and outdoors, masks are still required to be worn by everyone.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to make a major announcement regarding state restrictions in about one month. 

Malibu’s interim City Manager Steve McClary, who’s been on the john since May 1 and will soon get his second vaccine, is taking a cautious approach both for public spaces and for City Hall.

“Obviously safety is the paramount concern,” he told Surfside News from behind a mask at the Sensory Garden at The Park at Cross Creek. “Beyond that, I’d like to be able to get people back in City Hall as fast as possible. I think everybody works better that way. I think it’s better for morale and camaraderie and all that.”

A longtime local government employee whose most recent job was as interim Camarillo city manager, McClary, 51, said one of the real challenges for him has been coming into a new organization with so many people working remotely.

“I’m used to being able to walk down a hallway and pop into somebody’s office or see what’s going on and manage from that perspective,” he said. “I really am eager as soon as we safely can to get people back into City Hall. And then I think we need to be sensitive to what the public’s needs are as well.”

“I suspect there’s going to be some people who maybe are not completely comfortable with walking into a public environment, so I think we’ll have to try to accommodate that as well.”

“But, yeah,” he said, “I’m looking forward to getting everybody back in their desk as much as we can.”