Newport Beach took a bold step forward on Tuesday when its City Council voted to end the citywide state of emergency order, which had been in place for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vote by the Council, which also received numerous letters from the public encouraging it to lift the state of emergency, was unanimous.
With this decision, Newport Beach has become one of the first local governments in Orange County to rescind its emergency order. This will pave the way for other municipalities in the area to begin following in their footsteps.
Council member Will O’Neill commended the decision, saying that “Governments should not exist in states of emergency beyond the moment that the situation no longer qualifies as an emergency.”
The original order, ratified by the City Council in March 2020, gave Newport Beach access to financial resources at the state and federal levels, as well as broad latitude to issue edicts regarding matters such as outdoor dining and short-term rental permits. Emergency orders, in the city of Newport Beach, can only be legally maintained so long as the community finds itself in “extreme peril.”
Although the emergency order itself is at an end, outdoor dining permits will remain in effect, as the City Council voted at an earlier meeting to extend them through September.
This decision comes only one week after the state of California lifted most COVID restrictions, although the statewide emergency order remains in place. The Orange County Board of Supervisors also voted the same day to maintain its own state of emergency.