Covid Vaccination Proof Ordinance for Indoor Public Settings
In pandemic times, safety should be paramount, and with that in mind, councilmember
Mitch O’Farrell and Council President Nury Martinez co-sponsored a draft ordinance requiring proof of covid vaccination for indoor public settings. The LA City Council has unanimously passed the legislation requiring it when dining indoors at restaurants or frequenting establishments such as gyms or sporting events.
The draft ordinance proposes that persons eligible to have received the vaccine are required to have obtained at least one dose of the vaccine to enter indoor public spaces, such as restaurants, bars, retail establishments, fitness centers, spas, and entertainment centers such as stadiums, concert venues, and movie theaters.
Movie theatres are currently requiring all guests to wear masks while inside, but vaccination proof may be required in the near future. (Photo by Genie Davis)
According to Martinez, “It’s our responsibility to protect the public, that includes protecting them from the unvaccinated. The decision to not get vaccinated doesn’t just affect you. We have kids under the age of 12 who are not eligible for the vaccine yet, and someone’s decision to not get vaccinated affects them as well.”
“Instead of fighting science, we should be fighting the virus,” O'Farrell said. “The data is clear: vaccines are safe and effective…This is a necessary and sensible step that will broadly protect the health and safety of Angelenos. It could very well ward off another economic shutdown, which would be devastating to our city and our nation.”
Next steps? The City Attorney will prepare and present a draft ordinance, including instructions as to how businesses, Council Offices, and stakeholders can comply with the measure.
The VaxUpLA Campaign will also ramp up its public outreach and education awareness to ensure equitable distribution of available vaccines and to provide reliable information on COVID-19, as well.
Kristopher Larson, President and CEO of The Hollywood Partnership, asserts that during a public health crisis such as this, it’s important to think beyond personal preferences, and instead "frame the question as ‘what can I do to ensure my friends, family and neighbors are safe?’ It’s akin to the ethos of our communities and to many other systems of interdependence upon which American society is built.”
Larson compares that responsibility to driving rules and regulations, and adds “Rules often precede norms, as a key role of government is protecting public good. Continuing with the metaphor of driving, although most tailgating on a freeway goes unenforced, we can all identify with feelings of annoyance and disrespect when another driver’s impatience causes them to encroach upon our safe space.” He adds “common sense, combined with the training we received to drive safely to preserve human life, are at the root of our annoyed disposition. We instinctively react to tailgating with a desire to avoid the potential for a car accident - but often do so begrudgingly. Though a law wasn’t enforced, it took the responsible person to sacrifice a little to help society save a lot.
“Putting the pandemic into the terms of lives lost in car accidents – each month, Covid-19 is responsible for the equivalent of one year’s worth of car accident deaths (637K U.S. deaths total over the last 18 months). Despite that, we’re inundated with flip-flopping policies and confusing guidance, and rules and norms that vary wildly across jurisdictional boundaries.” Larson notes “We can and must do better to protect those we care about if we hope to ever put this chapter behind us. It’s simply the price we pay as individuals for the privilege of participating in society.”
Jeff Loeb is the general manager of Broadway in Hollywood. The Hollywood Pantages Theatre is an early adopter of vaccine requirements. (Courtesy photo)
At the Pantages Theatre, Jeff Loeb, general manager of Broadway in Hollywood, notes that the theater group has instituted vaccination requirements ahead of the city. “As part of our work during our shut down, we have worked closely with epidemiologists and industrial hygienists as well as the LA County Department of Public Health. It is through our work with these various resources that we determined the safest path to reopening our theatre, for our staff and our patrons, was to require vaccines and that everyone wear masks while inside.”
Patrons, he says “have been wonderful in their response to our requirement. So often we hear ‘thank you for making the theatre safe for my family to return.’”
With the policy in place, Loeb sees the biggest challenge ahead is to “remain vigilant in asking our patrons to be vaccinated and to wear masks while in the theatre. We must keep our staff safe in order to welcome patrons’ day after day. The fall and winter months will pose new challenges, such as colds and flu, so we will continue to encourage everyone to mask, practice good hand hygiene and to stay home if they are feeling under the weather.”
As both a business owner and area resident, Noysky Projects gallerist Sean Noyce relates that while he is pleased about the ordinance, it will also be a challenge to enforce it. “I'm happy that [Los Angeles] is requiring mandates to enter area businesses, but… [will the city be] equipped to deal with the fallout should things get rough? Some folks are violently opposed to vaccine mandates, which adds a whole new level of uncertainty…the city should be prepared to respond appropriately when problems arise.” He adds “It's unfortunate that we can't all get behind the science…”
Hollywood area resident Lena Moross says the new ordinance will make her feel “glad and protected,” as she frequents many of the businesses in her neighborhood. Other residents who declined to speak for attribution echoed her opinion but remain concerned that some will protest compliance.
According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Health, L.A. County has seen a near-doubling in the number of people hospitalized each day for COVID-19 in the past two weeks. On one recent day there were 2,622 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 22 new deaths. Among the more than 5.1 million fully vaccinated people in L.A., the Department of Public Health has determined only 0.009% of all fully vaccinated people ended up hospitalized and 0.0008% fully vaccinated passed away. Fully vaccinated people remain at low risk for becoming infected and at an even lower risk for having a bad outcome if they are.
According to the Department of Public Health, as of August 9, 71.5% of L.A. County residents 12 and older have been vaccinated with at least one dose. Unvaccinated individuals are at greater risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, as well as being hospitalized. In addition, they continue to pose a threat to children under 12 years of age who are not qualified to receive a vaccine.
The city continues to encourage mask-wearing, social distancing, and hand washing along with vaccination to prevent the continued spread of the Delta variant.
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