By MADISON HIRNEISEN
THE CENTER SQUARE STAFF REPORTER
(The Center Square) — The city of Los Angeles enacted some of the nation’s strictest COVID-19 vaccination mandates Monday for all people 12 and older.
Residents 12 and older now are required to show proof of vaccination to enter establishments where food or beverage is served, gyms and fitness centers, entertainment and recreation venues (movie theaters, concert venues, shopping centers, museums), personal care establishments (salons, barbershops) and any city facility.
Those who obtained a medical or religious exemption can use an outdoor area if it is available at each establishment. If no outdoor area is available, patrons must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours to enter.
Businesses or venues that do not comply with the order will face a series of escalating penalties, starting first with a warning, then a series of $1,000 fines. For a fourth and any subsequent violation, businesses will be fined $5,000. Enforcement of the program, known as SafePassLA, will not begin until Nov. 29.
The Los Angeles City Council voted on the mandate in early October with hopes the requirement will help slow the spread of the coronavirus in higher-risk settings.
“The United States has a long history with vaccines, which are scientifically proven to be safe, effective, reliable, and necessary,” council member Mitch O’Farrell said in a statement to The Center Square. “The ultimate protection is for everyone to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 so all of Los Angeles can have a full and complete public health and economic recovery.”
The city’s requirement was put in place days after Los Angeles County implemented a similar but less widespread requirement for certain indoor establishments. Under the county’s requirement, eligible county residents are required to show proof of vaccination to enter indoor areas of bars, nightclubs and wineries as of Nov. 4. In addition, the county “strongly recommends “restaurant operators prioritize indoor seating for fully vaccinated patrons,” according to the order.
Patrons who are not fully vaccinated are allowed to use outdoor portions of the facilities, according to the county health officer order.
In response to the various mandates implemented across Los Angeles, a large crowd of city and county employees, including members of the police department, fire department and city Metro, gathered in protest Monday afternoon outside of City Hall. Members of the public also were among the thousands in attendance.
According to the Los Angeles Times, members of the crowd chanted, “We will not comply,” in protest of mandates for county and city workers in Los Angeles. Under a county ordinance ratified in August, all workers were required to be vaccinated by Oct. 1, while city workers have until Dec. 18 to be fully vaccinated. Those who do not comply with the orders risk losing their jobs.
Madison Hirneisen covers California for The Center Square.