The Los Angeles City Council Wednesday is scheduled to consider requesting an ordinance to require the public to show proof of at least partial vaccination against COVID-19 to enter most public indoor spaces in the city, including restaurants, bars, gyms, concert venues, movie theaters and even “retail establishments.”
Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell introduced the motion last Wednesday. If passed, it would instruct the city attorney to prepare an ordinance requiring “eligible individuals” to have received at least one dose of the vaccine before entering specified indoor public spaces in the city.
It is similar to a policy recently announced in New York City, but it would be more restrictive with the inclusion of retail establishments, potentially limiting access to some basic necessities. The New York policy restricts access only to more entertainment-oriented venues such as restaurants, fitness centers and theaters.
According to O’Farrell’s office, the exact businesses that would fall under the restrictions would be determined during the drafting of the ordinance.
City Attorney Mike Feuer said Tuesday that it would be up to the City Council, but he also voiced his support for a vaccine mandate, and laid out his vision for what should be included.
He called for vaccinations to be required for people entering restaurants, bars, gyms and event venues, and for airline passengers to show either proof of being fully vaccinated or a negative COVID-19 test. He also called for a requirement for public employees to be fully vaccinated or face possible suspension or termination.
Los Angeles officials are hashing out the details of a possible policy that would require all city employees to show proof of COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly negative COVID-19 tests.
Last week’s motion to instruct the city attorney to prepare an ordinance requiring vaccines was seconded by Councilwoman Nithya Raman, who said: “With the rise of the Delta variant across Los Angeles, it is absolutely critical that those participating in social activities — particularly indoors — be vaccinated. People deserve to feel safe while eating inside at a restaurant, going to the gym or attending other indoor events.”
It was also supported by Councilman Mark Ridley-Thomas.
“In light of the recent rise in infections and hospitalizations due to the more contagious Delta variant, I believe now is the time to double down on our preemptive measures,” Ridley-Thomas said. “Across the country, states are requiring proof of vaccinations and the city of Los Angeles must follow suit. Mandatory vaccinations are unavoidable. We all need to do our part to prevent the transmission of this deadly virus.”
Councilman Joe Buscaino added, “We must do everything in our power to avoid another shutdown. The rapid increase in cases means that we have to use every tool available to protect our neighbors and our economy.”
The motion would also instruct the Community Investment for Families Department to report immediately on how to expand the Vax UP L.A. campaign and what resources are needed for a citywide outreach and education program in an effort to expand vaccine coverage.
If the motion is approved, the chief legislative analyst would work with other city departments to create an implementation strategy and the city attorney would report to council with a course of action for ensuring compliance.
Councilman Paul Koretz threw his support behind the motion last Wednesday, saying “Vaccination rates are just not happening fast enough and unfortunately, it seems that the only way to stop the aggressive spread of the virus is through aggressive policy.”
Councilman Kevin de León agreed:
“We’ve got to stop playing games with this virus. Vaccines are the best protection against serious illness and death, so it’s time for us to get serious about protecting our city’s workers, families and businesses,” he said.
County health officials continue to urge vaccinations as the best defense against COVID-19 infections, which are disproportionately affecting the unvaccinated and landing them in hospitals.
As of Aug. 3, of more than 5 million fully vaccinated county residents, 15,628 tested positive, for a rate of 0.31%, according to County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer. There were 446 fully vaccinated people who have been hospitalized, a rate of 0.009%, and 41 died, a rate of 0.0008%.
“While it is true that these vaccines are not 100% perfect, no vaccines are,” she said.
The county reported another 2,622 COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, raising the overall total from throughout the pandemic to 1,331,859. Another 22 deaths were also reported, raising the county’s COVID death toll to 24,805.
The number of people hospitalized due to COVID rose to 1,573 as of Tuesday, with 350 people in intensive care. Ferrer said the hospital patients are overwhelmingly unvaccinated, at about 90%. Between April and July, 96% of the people who died from the virus were unvaccinated, she said.
People can watch the City Council meeting at 10 a.m. Wednesday at clerk.lacity.org/calendar.