LOS ANGELES (CNS) — Going to an indoor bar or nightclub in Los Angeles County will soon require proof of COVID-19 vaccination, while attending a theme park or large outdoor event with 10,000 people or more will require vaccination or a negative COVID test, the county's public health director announced Wednesday.
The restrictions will be included in a revised Health Officer Order expected to be issued by Friday in an effort to get more people vaccinated against the virus, Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors Wednesday.
The order will require proof of vaccination for all customers and employees in indoor portions of bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs and lounges. All patrons and employees will need at least one dose of vaccine by Oct. 7, and a second dose by Nov. 4.
The order will recommend, but not require, vaccine verification for employees and customers in indoor portions of restaurants.
The requirement for outdoor mega-events — including Dodgers, Rams, Chargers, LAFC and Galaxy games and theme parks such as Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain — will take effect Oct. 7. The order will require attendees and employees to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours.
Attendees at indoor mega-events are already required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test.
"This modified health officer order aligns with the continued need to reduce risk of transmission and increase vaccination coverage," Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer told the Board of Supervisors. "This is a reasonable path forward that will position us to be better able to break the cycle of surges."
She said county health officials "believe that targeted vaccine mandates are now a very important strategy for quickly raising vaccination coverage across our county and ending the pandemic."
One affected outdoor venue — the Hollywood Bowl — announced Wednesday it will impose a vaccine/testing requirement for audience members beginning Sept. 24.
Ferrer said the county will be working with operators of all affected venues to discuss implementation strategies. She noted that the vaccine-verification mandate at indoor bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs and lounges should not be onerous for the businesses, since they already must check patrons' IDs to ensure they are of legal drinking age.
Asked why the order only recommends vaccinations for patrons and employees and indoor restaurants, Ferrer said activities that occur in a bar — such as dancing and singing — tend to present a higher risk of virus transmission than a sit-down restaurant. She said the order is more targeted at "drinking establishments" without restaurant permits.
Ferrer said the pace of vaccine administration has slowed dramatically in the county, and without a turnaround, more surges can happen and more potentially deadly variants can emerge.
"There is a cyclical nature to this virus, and as long as we have large numbers of unvaccinated people here in the county, we're at the mercy of the cyclical nature of the (virus)," she said. "... We doom ourselves in some ways to potentially another surge later in October, November, December, when conditions really favor COVID-19 virus replication if we're not really diligent now and take some actions that will reduce risks of exposure.
"Because every place you have high risk of exposure, you're going to have spread. And you want to cut out as much of that spread as possible," she said.