EDITOR'S NOTE: Multimedia journalist Lauren Pozen spoke to a San Pedro restaurant owner about the LA City Council taking steps toward easing the city's masking and vaccine-verification requirements for indoor establishments. Click the arrow to watch the video.
LOS ANGELES (CNS) — With the county easing its COVID-19 masking and vaccine-verification rules, the Los Angeles City Council took the first step Wednesday toward ending the city's mandate requiring proof of vaccination to enter many indoor establishments and large outdoor events.
The city ordinance, which went into effect Nov. 8, 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.
On Wednesday, the council approved a motion introduced by Council President Nury Martinez that essentially calls for rescinding the requirements, although individual businesses would be permitted to voluntarily require proof of vaccination from patrons.
The vote instructed the city attorney to prepare a new ordinance rolling back the requirements and bring it back to the council for a final vote.
Los Angeles 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. But people attending indoor mega-events of 1,000 or more people — such as sporting events — are still required to show proof of COVID vaccination or a recent negative test.
Vaccine verification or a negative test is also still required for workers at health care facilities and congregate-care facilities.
The city's law is enforced by the Department of Building and Safety, which can issue administrative citations to businesses that violate the ordinance. The citations include a $1,000 fine for a second violation, $2,000 for a third violation and a $5,000 fine for a fourth and subsequent violations.
Los Angeles also enforces a vaccination mandate for its employees, who were required to be inoculated against COVID-19 by Dec. 18. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who is running for mayor, on Wednesday introduced a motion to request a report on the feasibility and impacts of rescinding that mandate. He said on Friday he believes "it should be a matter of personal choice and that we should respect our employees' civil liberties and allow them to make their own personal medical decisions."
The mandate for city employees to be vaccinated was approved by the City Council on Aug. 18.