COVID vaccine
Vaccination card example. Photo via Pixabay.

The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday is expected to finalize the process of lifting the city’s mandate that requires proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter many indoor establishments and large outdoor events.

The council took a preliminary step in that direction last Wednesday when it voted 13-1 to rescind the vaccine-mandate ordinance that went into effect Nov. 8.

But the ordinance to lift the ban needed unanimous approval on its first reading, and Councilman Mike Bonin dissented, necessitating a second vote on the matter that will take place Wednesday.

The second reading will require 12 votes for the matter to pass with an urgency clause, which allows the measure to take effect as soon as the mayor signs it and it is published by the City Clerk’s Office. If it receives only a majority vote, it will still be adopted, but it won’t take effect for 31 days.

The city mandate requires people over age 12 to show proof of vaccination before patronizing indoor restaurants, gyms, entertainment and recreational facilities, personal care establishments and some city buildings. The law also requires people to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend outdoor events with 5,000 or more people.

Council President Nury Martinez introduced the motion calling for a lifting of the requirements — although even if the council does so, individual businesses would still be permitted to voluntarily require proof of vaccination from patrons.

Bonin, explaining his “no” vote last week, said: “I know it feels like we’re out of the woods. It feels like we’re all going back to normal. But there’s new variants and new strains all the time. This BA.2 (variant) is spreading and we really don’t know what the variant a month from now or two months are.”

Martinez responded by saying, “I agree with you on that,” and noted that the City Council would have to revisit the vaccination mandates “as we learn to live with this pandemic unfortunately.”

Meanwhile, Los Angeles County will align with the state on Friday and lift the requirement that attendees of indoor mega-events with 1,000 or more people — such as sporting events or concerts — show proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test. The county has already dropped its requirement that people show proof of vaccination to patronize indoor portions of bars, nightclubs and lounges or to attend outdoor mega-events.

Vaccine verification or a negative test is still required for workers at healthcare facilities and congregate-care facilities.

The easing of vaccine-verification requirements follows the lifting of other COVID restrictions — such as indoor mask-wearing mandates — in response to dwindling infection and hospitalization numbers.

Despite the easing of such restrictions, county health officials continue to urge precautionary steps against virus spread, noting that the BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19 is slowly beginning to expand locally, and will likely gain a stronger foothold in the county, mirroring the pattern seen overseas and in some East Coast cities.

Health officials continued to urge people to take precautionary measures — including masks — in crowded situations, even though they are no longer mandated.

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