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Los Angeles will require proof of a COVID-19 vaccine for indoor establishments

A patient shows her COVID-19 vaccine card at the Clínica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero in the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles on July 26.
A patient shows her COVID-19 vaccine card at the Clínica Monseñor Oscar A. Romero in the Pico-Union district of Los Angeles on July 26.

By next month Los Angeles will require residents and visitors to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to eat, drink, or shop in indoor establishments across the city.

Under this mandate, eligible patrons will need to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, coffee shops, stores, gyms, spas or salons. People attending large, outdoor events will also need to show evidence of either vaccination or proof of a negative COVID-19 test to attend the event.

Proof of vaccination includes a vaccination card issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a photo of both sides of the card, documentation from a health care provider, or a digital record of vaccination issued by California, another state or country.

The City Council passed the new law on Wednesday and Mayor Eric Garcetti approved the sweeping ordinance later that day. It's set to take effect sometime in November.

This mandate adds on to the recently-passed statewide rule requiring all elementary through high school students to get coronavirus vaccines.

The city-wide mandate passed despite some residents writing to the City Council in opposition to the rule, arguing the policy was unconstitutional and unenforceable. Copies of letters from the public were shared on the L.A. City Council agenda for Wednesday's meeting.

But city officials argued an earlier surge in coronavirus cases across the country thanks to the delta variant drove Los Angeles to this decision. Though nationwide, cases of the virus are trending downward.

This new mandate passed Wednesday also goes further than the Los Angeles County Department of Health's order, issued last month, requiring customers at outdoor events of 10,000 or more to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. That rule also applied to indoor bars, wineries, breweries, and nightclubs.

Businesses face fines for violations

Garcetti signed the ordinance Wednesday saying he hopes it will force more residents to get vaccinated.

Los Angeles reports that 78% of residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine. At least 92% of residents older than 65 have received one dose.

"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," Garcetti said. "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 this Wednesday, July 7, 2021, file photo, patrons enjoy tropical cocktails in the tiny interior of the Tiki-Ti bar as it reopens on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.
Damian Dovarganes / AP
In this Wednesday, July 7, 2021, file photo, patrons enjoy tropical cocktails in the tiny interior of the Tiki-Ti bar as it reopens on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Under the ordinance, customers who are not vaccinated can use an establishment's outdoor space. They can only enter the indoor portion of a store or restaurant for brief moments, either to use the bathroom, to pick up an order, or to pay, while wearing a well-fitting mask.

A business found in violation of this mandate could face punishment that includes a warning or notice for a first violation, a $1,000 fine for a second violation, a $2,000 fine for a third, and a $5,000 fine for a fourth violation.

Those who cannot be vaccinated for religious or health reasons must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test and proof of an exemption.

Los Angeles follows a trend emerging in other major cities, including West Hollywood, San Francisco and New York City who have similar rules requiring showing a proof of a vaccine to enter some indoor establishments.

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