EDITOR'S NOTE: Multimedia journalist Vicky Nguyen spoke with a café owner about the new mandate. Click the arrow above to watch the video.
LOS ANGELES — Workers at Primestor's retail centers have been preparing for Monday for the past couple of weeks.
Plastered on their tenants' windows and signs on common areas are the city of Los Angeles' newest mandate: "Indoor patrons will have to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19."
"We have been updating our bilingual signage and, in some cases, trilingual signage — English, Spanish and Tagalog — because some of our centers have a large Filipino presence as well," said Arturo Sneider, CEO of Primestor Development, which owns more than a dozen retail shopping centers across the city.
Sneider is not alone. At the Westfield Century City, customers will need to bring their proof of vaccination if they want to shop inside one of the stores inside or eat at the indoor food court. A Westfield official said they're not checking people before entering the Century City mall since it's mostly outdoors.
However, people ages 12 and up will need to bring proof of vaccination if they want to enter Westfield's other indoor malls, such as the Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks and the Westfield Topanga & The Village in Canoga Park. A picture of both sides of the vaccination card and an ID are needed before entering the shopping malls.
Starting Monday, the city of LA requires people to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination before entering indoor shopping centers, movie theaters, gyms, restaurants, museums, government buildings, and other indoor places. The ordinance states that those with religious or medical exemptions must show proof of a recent negative coronavirus test, or the business must accommodate them outdoors.
Business owners that don't comply with the mandate face penalties ranging from a warning for the first violation up to $5,000 for each violation. The city said they would begin enforcing the mandate on Nov. 29.
The city's proof of vaccine ordinance, which passed last month, is one of the strictest in the nation.
City officials said that the ordinance is necessary to curb the spread of the delta variant. As of Monday, LA has reported more than 611,000 positive cases and more than 10,000 deaths.
"COVID-19 daily cases and community transmission remain high and, according to health experts, are likely to increase during the coming weeks because respiratory viruses spread more easily in the fall and winter months," the ordinance states.
The city's new mandate again hits retailers and businesses. Throughout the pandemic, the city and county — as a way to slow the spread of the coronavirus — has implemented several orders that have either shut down certain retail businesses and restaurants for extended periods or limited the number of people to enter their establishment.
"What a difficult time it's been," said Sneider.
Primestor doesn't own any indoor shopping centers. Sneider noted that they let their tenants decide how to enforce the city's new proof of vaccination mandate.
Most of their 12 to 15 shopping centers are outdoors and located in Black and immigrant communities, which have been among the most brutally hit by the pandemic and have some of the lowest vaccination rates compared to other ethnicities. According to the LA Times, in California, 46% and 47% of only Blacks and Latinos are fully vaccinated, respectively.
Sneider said he expects a short drop in business because of the government mandate.
"I think there probably will be a near-term, short-lived drop in traffic as people who have not gotten vaccinated decide getting vaccinated or not. I don't have a position or judgment on who decides what. This is based on their individual needs and beliefs. But if you are now in a situation where government mandates it, you're going to have to choose whether you participate in that or not. I do think there's going to be a period of adjustment as people make a decision."
Sneider added that he expects the vaccination rate of residents to increase because of the mandate. After seeing news reports of people attacking retail workers and business owners when asked to present proof of vaccination, Sneider said he hopes that people who decide to shop in his company's retail centers keep it civil.
"There is no reason to get aggressive at an employee who is simply following directions that are mandated by law. So if you don't believe in that, simply don't patronize that business."