On Wednesday, October 6th the Los Angeles City Council approved one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the country: starting November 4, 2021, all businesses with indoor facilities (such as restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, museums, bowling alleys, spas, and movie theaters) must require a proof of vaccination. Here’s what you need to know:
Who voted on this?
The mandate was approved by the Los Angeles City Council, an elected 15-member legislative body. The vote on Wednesday was 11-2, with the two opposing votes being cast by Councilman Joe Buscaino of District 15 (who proposed several amendments, one of which would criminalize any harassment or interference with an employee attempting to enforce the rules) and Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas (District 10) who said the council needed more time to vet the proposed amendments before they could come to a “thoughtful” decision. (L.A. Times). Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to sign the mandate into law.
When does this go into effect?
Starting November 4th, 2021, you must provide proof of vaccination to enter all indoor facilities, including restaurants, coffee shops, gyms, museums, bowling alleys, spas, movie theaters, nail salons, sporting events, and other indoor locations. The requirement expires when the city lifts its emergency Safer L.A. Order, which was issued on September 30, 2021.
Those who refuse to get the vaccine due to religious or medical reasons may submit a written exemption, but businesses must require those customers to use either their outdoor facilities or provide a recent negative COVID-19 test. For restaurants, customers without proof of vaccination (or who are exempt) may enter briefly to use the restroom or pick up a takeout order, per the mandate.
OK, but what does that mean for ME?
When it comes to proving vaccination status, diners have three options:
- Carrying the physical card. This is the easiest and most obvious method, but it’s also the riskiest - since it’s technically a medical record, the white card you received when you got your COVID-19 vaccination should probably be kept somewhere safe and easily accessible.
- Request a digital record. Everyone in California can do this - it takes less than a minute to fill the form out (name, date of birth, etc.) and you’ll receive a QR code with your digital vaccination card. We recommend this option. Take a screenshot of the card, then drop it into a new folder on your phone titled “VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS” or “NOT NUDE PHOTOS” or something.
- Use your phone to take a picture of the card. Also a valid option, although the digital record is more official.
Whichever method you choose, be prepared to also share a valid ID to verify the record.
And if you violate the rules?
So far, there are no consequences for customers who refuse to share their vaccination status, but businesses that fail to check will face fines: a warning for the first violation, $1,000 for the second, then up to $5,000 for a fourth or subsequent violation. Fines will begin to be enforced on November 29, 2021.
Why is the mandate necessary?
The number of COVID-19 cases has been decreasing, however, Los Angeles County still averages at around 14 deaths per day at the time of writing - a statistic public health officials fear may rise with the increase of winter gatherings in the second half of the year or the introduction of a new variant. “Nothing in this ordinance requires you to go and get vaccinated at all,” Councilman Paul Krekorian (District 2) announced last week. But there are certain public spaces where “you will not be allowed to go to put other people at risk.”
What are the numbers I should know?
- Average deaths per day (due to COVID-19): 14
- Deaths related to COVID-19 on Tuesday, October 5th, 2021: 35
- Vaccination eligibility: Ages 12 and up
- 78% of Los Angeles residents have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose
- 67.1% of Los Angeles residents are fully vaccinated
- Experts say about 85% of Americans will need to be vaccinated to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control