Los Angeles Passes Sweeping Proof of Vaccine Requirement
he Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance requiring patrons of indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, shopping centers, entertainment venues and personal care establishments to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. The new rule, passed on an 11-2 vote, makes Los Angeles one of the strictest cities in the country in terms of proof of vaccine requirements. Councilmembers Joe Buscaino and John Lee cast the dissenting votes; two other members were absent for the vote. The ordinance will go into effect on Nov. 6 at the earliest.
“Vaccinating more Angelenos is our only way out of this pandemic, and we must do everything in our power to keep pushing those numbers up,” said Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement after signing the ordinance. “These new rules will encourage more people to get the shot, and make businesses safer for workers and customers—so that we can save more lives, better protect the vulnerable, and make our communities even safer as we fight this pandemic.”
In an effort to balance the public health benefits of the restrictions with its burden, the ordinance omits grocery stores and pharmacies.
“We’ve spent too much time placing restrictions on people who did their part by getting vaccinated and wearing their masks. We need to both limit the transmission of the virus as well as make it inconvenient for those who are unvaccinated to access indoor venues and put lives at jeopardy. The stakes are too high,” Council President Nury Martinez said at a previous meeting.
As of Sept. 30, slightly less than 78% of eligible county residents age 12 and up have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 69% are fully vaccinated.
Those exempt from vaccinations, either due to medical reasons or a “sincerely held religious belief,” will be exempt from the new regulations. Establishments will have to review exemptions on a case by case basis.
In cases where unvaccinated people are permitted to enter, they will be allowed to use outdoor areas. If unavailable, they can enter indoor spaces after showing proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
The Council grappled with the question of how to enforce the ordinance. Buscaino voted against the measure, citing a lack of an enforcement mechanism. Other council members, including Bob Blumenfield, Mike Bonin and Paul Krekorian, echoed Buscaino’s concerns, but felt it more urgent to pass the requirements first and settle the details later.
“All those concerns being said, we can’t delay a day longer. We need to advance forward with an ordinance that is going to protect people from their fellow citizens who are making a choice not to be vaccinated,” Krekorian said last week.