The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 on Wednesday to end the proof of vaccination mandate to enter most indoor places and large outdoor events.
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The mandate, which requires those ages 12 and up to be fully vaccinated or have a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter most indoor businesses and public areas, had been approved by the City Council in October 2021 to help reduce the number of COVID-19 cases and better corral future variant outbreaks, such as the subsequent Omicron variant in late 2021 and early 2022. In effect beginning in November, the mandate quickly drew the ire of many businesses who now had to demand vaccination proof. The Council also had to quickly make many large changes to the mandate due to a growing number of issues with the order. While effective in some areas of Los Angeles, many places also reported in rampant loophole abuse, making the mandate only partially effective.
Despite another variant, BA.2, now on the rise in many places including LA County, Council members decided to end the proof of vaccination mandate due to a drastically lowered number of cases in the past few months.
Passed with an urgency clause, the Council’s decision to get rid of the mandate will come into effect as soon Mayor Eric Garcetti signs it and has it published by the LA City Clerk’s office. Once in effect, which may happen as soon as this week, vaccine proof or a negative test will not be needed except for healthcare facility and care facility workers due to the heightened health risks still prevalent in those places. Businesses will still be allowed to voluntarily require the proof of vaccination requirements, although few, if any, are expected to do so once the mandate is lifted.
The lone dissenting Councilman, Mike Bonin, noted that there are new variants out there and that the proof requirement is still needed to stop the spread if it leads to a new outbreak in the city.
“I know it feels like we’re out of the woods,” explained Bonin. “It feels like we’re all going back to normal. But there’s new variants and new strains all the time. This BA.2 variant is spreading and we really don’t know what the variant a month from now or two months are.”
However, Council President Nury Martinez, who had introduced the motion calling for the end of the mandate, said that a return of the proof mandates would only come as needed.
With indoor mega-event proof mandates ending Friday, and Los Angeles County already dropping most vaccine and masking mandates earlier this year, Los Angeles is now expected to join them in at most 30 days, but in all likelihood much sooner than that.
“I swear to God I felt like a bouncer asking for proof of vaccination slips,” said LA Business owner Roger Eamon to the Globe on Wednesday. “This is what a lot of us have been looking forward to, especially with summer coming and tourists coming into the city again.”
Mayor Garcetti is expected to sign off on the ordinance soon.