Cloth and paper masks on August 23, 2021. Masks are mandatory in many cities due to the COVID 19 pandemic. (Ray Saint Germain/Bay City News)

The Monterey County Board of Supervisors balked Wednesday at mandating face coverings indoors regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status but encouraged residents to do so regardless.

After two hours of discussion and public comment, the board voted 3-2 in favor of the mandate, but it needed a four-fifths vote to take effect immediately as an urgency ordinance.

Supervisors John Phillips and Chris Lopez voted against the mandate, arguing that the county’s COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have trended down recently and that the mandate could be necessary if cases tick back up.

Despite the vote, the county still has several COVID-related mandates in place, including requirements to wear a face covering inside county facilities, on public transit, in schools and in health care, correctional and long-term care facilities.

Unvaccinated residents are still required to wear a face covering indoors in public settings.