Patronizing indoor restaurants, gyms, theaters and several other indoor establishments in the city of Los Angeles will soon require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination under an ordinance approved today by the City Council and signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
The ordinance is one of the strictest mandates of its kind in the country.
Here are the main points of the ordinance:
• The ordinance will go into effect a month from now.
• The ordinance applies to establishments that serve food or beverages, gyms and fitness venues, entertainment and recreation venues, including movie theaters, shopping centers and personal care establishments.
• Retail establishments such as grocery stores and pharmacies are not included in the ordinance.
• Actual enforcement is set to begin Nov. 29, and businesses that violate the ordinance would be issued a $1,000 fine for a second violation, $2,000 fine for a third violation and a $5,000 fine for a fourth violation.
• People can be exempted from the mandate if they have medical conditions that restrict their ability to get vaccinated or a "sincerely held religious belief." Those exemptions will have to be reviewed by the location the person is trying to enter.
• People who are exempt will be able to use outdoor areas of the location, but if unavailable, they may be allowed to enter the indoor area by providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test.
• The ordinance also requires people to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend outdoor events with 5,000 or more people, which would be stricter than the L.A. County requirement taking effect Thursday, which applies to outdoor events with 10,000 or more people.
The ordinance is similar to policies in West Hollywood, New York and San Francisco. Los Angeles County will implement a vaccination mandate beginning Thursday that applies to employees and patrons of indoor portions of bars, breweries, wineries and distilleries. That rule requires at least partial vaccination beginning Thursday, with full vaccination required by Nov. 4.
While Los Angeles County continues to see falling numbers of COVID-19 hospitalizations and other metrics, the pace of residents being vaccinated has slowed dramatically, officials have said. As of Sept. 30, 78% of eligible Los Angeles County residents age 12 and up have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 69% are fully vaccinated.
"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," Garcetti said in a statement after the council's vote.
The measure passed 11-2, with Councilmen Joe Buscaino and John Lee dissenting and two other members absent from the vote.
The city's Chief Legislative Analyst told council members last week that the city does not yet have a department chosen to enforce the ordinance, but it has identified the Department of Building and Safety as the most relevant.
That department, however, does not have the staffing to enforce the law.
Councilman Buscaino, who is running for mayor, opposed the measure over the lack of enforcement, while expressing concern that untrained employees in understaffed restaurants would be responsible for ensuring compliance.
Councilmen Bob Blumenfield, Mike Bonin and Paul Krekorian also expressed concern about details in the ordinance, including a lack of enforcement, but said it was imperative that the requirement goes into effect quickly, with the details ironed out later.