Los Angeles Imposes Far-Reaching Vaccination Mandate
Thousands of gyms, restaurants, movie theaters, shopping malls, salons and other indoor businesses in Los Angeles were required this week to start asking customers for proof that they had been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, under one of the nation’s strictest vaccination rules.
The law, which the City Council approved last month, allows people with medical conditions that preclude vaccination, or a sincerely held religious objection, to instead show proof of a negative coronavirus test taken within the preceding 72 hours.
Officials say that the law is meant to help revive a city that has been under varied levels of restriction for more than a year and a half, and that requiring almost everyone who enters an indoor public space to be vaccinated will help prevent a surge in cases as winter approaches.
“Our businesses can’t afford another shutdown,” Nury Martinez, the president of the Los Angeles City Council, said in a statement. “The goal of this mandate is to limit the transmission of the virus and save lives.”
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The seven-day average is the average of a day and the previous six days of data. Currently hospitalized is the most recent number of patients with Covid-19 reported by hospitals in the state for the four days prior. Dips and spikes could be due to inconsistent reporting by hospitals. Hospitalization numbers early in the pandemic are undercounts due to incomplete reporting by hospitals to the federal government.
But some business owners said they were frustrated that they might be forced to turn away customers.
Kim Prince, who owns Hotville, a popular Nashville hot chicken restaurant in the city’s Crenshaw district, said the vaccine verification requirement for indoor diners was just one more thing she had to worry about, along with staffing challenges and skyrocketing prices of ingredients.
While she has encouraged neighbors to get vaccinated and the restaurant has a patio, she said the mandate could put her employees in the difficult position of explaining the restrictions to customers — some of whom may be arriving from out of town — for the first time.
“We become the villain. We become that target,” she said. “That’s not my role — I’m not a policymaker, I’m a business owner who loves working in my own neighborhood.”
It’s particularly difficult for historically marginalized neighborhoods like Crenshaw, where fewer people are vaccinated than in Los Angeles County overall.
Ms. Prince said she thought much of the problem could be solved if the city did a better job of communicating the restrictions so that restaurant workers aren’t required to explain them to hungry, unsuspecting customers.
Some residents viewed the restrictions not as a mere logistical burden but as an unfair encroachment. At a protest outside City Hall on Monday, The Los Angeles Times reported, thousands of demonstrators voiced anger with vaccine mandates more broadly, especially those for public employees.
Still, across much of Los Angeles, the mandate took effect with little incident. Many bars, restaurants and fitness studios were already asking patrons to submit proof of vaccination if they planned to spend time indoors. In many cases, they said they hoped to lure back customers who might otherwise feel uncomfortable.
Allie Tichenor, the owner of Pilates Punx in the Echo Park neighborhood, said that even before the mandate went into effect, clients had asked whether instructors were vaccinated. Some volunteered their own vaccination status, and no one questioned the studio’s mask policy.
So although she didn’t hear from the city about the new law until just before it went into effect, she quickly emailed clients asking them to send proof of vaccination.
“It helps the clients feel really safe,” she said. “I’m happy to err on the side of caution, and I’ve figured if somebody wants to push back, maybe this isn’t the studio for them.”
The N.F.L. has fined the Green Bay Packers $300,000 and two of its players, quarterback Aaron Rodgers and wide receiver Allen Lazard, $14,650 each for failing to follow the Covid-19 protocols agreed on by the league and players’ union.
The penalties come about a week after Rodgers tested positive for the coronavirus and his subsequent public statements espousing false and unfounded claims about the Covid-19 vaccines and treatments. Those comments were condemned by public health officials and by some fellow athletes, though the league’s decision focused on his compliance with the rules.
Rodgers and Lazard, who is also unvaccinated, were penalized for attending a Halloween party even though the Covid-19 protocols prohibit unvaccinated players from gathering outside the team facility in a group of more than three players.
Rodgers also did not wear a mask when speaking with reporters, another violation of the league’s rules.
The team, which was notified of the fines late Tuesday, was penalized far more than the players because it did not do more to police its players’ behavior. The fine against the Packers is one of the largest for Covid-19 protocol violations.