The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday voted 11-2 to approve an ordinance that will require everyone age 12 and over to provide proof of full vaccination before entering many indoor venues, including bars, restaurants, and gyms.
Resource library: How health care organizations can navigate vaccination mandates and other issues in the post-pandemic world
Details on the mandate
The mandate requires all individuals to show proof of full vaccination before entering any of the indoor venues listed in the ordinance, effective Nov. 4. Those with a religious or medical vaccine exemption will be required to show a negative coronavirus test taken within the past 72 hours.
Individuals who have no proof of vaccination or an exemption will be allowed to briefly enter a venue to use the restroom or pick up a takeout order, the ordinance said.
Unvaccinated people also will be provided with "alternative arrangements for access to government services," including online or outdoor services, according to the ordinance.
Any business that violates the ordinance will face a series of escalating penalties. A first-time offense will come with a warning, followed by a $1,000 fine for a second-time offense, then a $2,000 fine for a third- offense, before escalating to a $5,000 fine for a fourth and all other subsequent violations.
The mandate applies to a variety of indoor venues but does not apply to retail establishments, including grocery stores and pharmacies. The mandate will remain in place until the city's emergency declaration for Covid-19 has been lifted.
The ordinance also requires patrons of outdoor events of at least 5,000 people show proof of vaccination or a recent negative coronavirus test in order to attend.
According to Axios, Los Angeles' mandate is among the strictest in the United States.
After signing the ordinance, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said the 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."
But Los Angeles City Councilmember John Lee, one of the two votes against the ordinance, said the mandate is "arbitrary" and "punitive toward businesses, doesn't provide an incentive to encourage those who are unvaccinated to get the vaccine, and only furthers the patchwork of regulations that exist across the region."
The Los Angeles County Business Federation said the mandate will place businesses in the city at "a competitive disadvantage to other neighboring areas" and raised concerns regarding how businesses will handle false accusations.
Councilmember Paul Krekorian, however, acknowledged that citizens have rights and liberties, "[b]ut with those rights and liberties come obligations to protect fellow members of your society as well."
"Nothing in this ordinance requires you to go and get vaccinated at all," Krekorian said. But there will be some places where "you will not be allowed to go to put other people at risk," he added. (Garfinkel, Axios, 10/6; Betz, Fox News, 10/6; Garcia, ABC7, 10/6; Reyes, Los Angeles Times, 10/6; Diaz, NPR, 10/7)