A new ordinance approved by the LA City Council now requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor venues.
The vote on the new ordinance was 11-2, with Councilman John Lee joining Joe Buscaino in opposing the law. Lee released a statement saying he believes the law is “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.”
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he believes the new ordinance will encourage more Angelenos to get 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 says in his statement.
The new law requires indoor businesses to check proof of vaccination when customers enter. That includes coffee shops, gyms, museums, bowling alleys, spas, and a range of other indoor venues where live music might be played. Requirements for proof of vaccination in LA will go into effect on November 4. They are set to expire when the city lifts its emergency declaration for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The law allows customers to submit written exemptions for religious or medical reasons. However, businesses must require those customers to use outdoor facilities or show proof of a recent negative coronavirus test if no outdoor seating is available. Customers who have no proof of vaccination or exemption may still enter briefly for using the restroom or picking up a takeout order, according to the law.
Businesses found in violation of the ordinance may face escalating penalties for not checking proof of COVID-19 vaccination in Los Angeles.
The first violation is a warning, while a second violation carries a $1,000 fine. There is a $5,000 max penalty for fourth and subsequent violations, with fines being enforced after November 29. Councilman Paul Koretz asked for city analysts to report on customers being alerted to fined businesses.
“I know that I would personally take pause when walking into a restaurant that has been warned or cited for violations, so I think this would have an impact,” Koretz said at the meeting. The rule only applies to those who are eligible to receive the FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccines. That means children who are too young are exempt from these regulations.
The law also implements stricter requirements for outdoor events with 5,000 or more people.