On Wednesday, the Los Angeles City Council is to decide upon one of the largest COVID-19 vaccination requirements in the country, mandating that either vaccination proof or a recent negative COVID-19 test will be needed to enter most indoor businesses in the city, including restaurants, salons, movie theaters, malls, gyms, and other establishments.
To date, Los Angeles has only focused on mandates for workers and for those at outdoor events with more than 10,000 people. Despite other cities such as San Francisco, San Jose, and Palm Springs enacting indoor business vaccination proof mandates for those 12 and up in the last several months, Los Angeles has yet to bring sweeping vaccination mandates to indoor businesses outside of a previous mandate covering bars, wineries, breweries, and other drinking establishments.
However, since last month, the city has been working on an indoor mandate draft to help further curb the spread of the delta variant, as well as other new variants, that have been striking the city. While the overall number of new daily cases, deaths and testing positivity rates have been falling in LA since early August, the Council nonetheless decided to push for the mandate as a precaution in high-risk areas with a lot of people.
“If we ever want to get back to normal, to what Los Angeles was like pre-COVID, we need to stop the spread in places most high risk,” said Los Angeles City Council President Nury Martinez in August. “So, if individuals want to go to their gym, go to their local bar without a mask, you need to get vaccinated. And if you want to watch a basketball game, a baseball game, go to a concert at a big venue, or even go into a movie theater, you need to get a shot.”
Other Councilmembers also noted that the push for vaccinations would not deny people going to places to get essentials such as food or medicine.
“COVID-19 could be eradicated if we had mass vaccinations across the country and across the world,” added Councilman Mitch O’Farrell. “Why on Earth is it OK in 2021 to have 30-plus people die in the county of Los Angeles from COVID over a three-day period, including an 11-year-old girl, when we have a vaccine that could have prevented all of that, accessible to everyone. This is not a vaccine mandate. We’re not going to deny anyone the ability to access essentials, food, medicine, etc., regardless of vaccination. But what is immoral is choosing not to get vaccinated, choosing to listen to some delusional rant on Twitter.”
Economic fallout from the proposed business vaccination mandate
While many are in favor of the mandate, opponents to the mandate have said that the economic fallout to the city could be devastating, especially in areas where tourists, who are less likely to have been vaccinated and have proof or a recent test, are prevalent.
San Francisco businesses, especially those that cater to tourists, have seen a large drop off in customers since their mandate was put into place in early August. Many restaurants and other businesses are still seeing drop-offs from pre-COVID-19 figures in the thousands per day almost two months later. And for many Los Angeles area business owners, that prospect is terrifying.
“We rely on tourists,” said Sid Stevens, who co-owns two Hollywood restaurants, to the Globe on Tuesday. “We managed to survive the lockdowns here and we just don’t need this. We’re finally getting people back in, we’re finally getting tourists again. Now LA wants to limit us again. We can’t afford to lose business and go back in the red again.
“And look, cases are going way down and things are improving. Why do they need to spike the football? They just don’t understand the damage that they will do. And a lot of restaurants feel this way. The bar next door to one of my restaurants is freaking out out over previous mandate affecting bars. Well, that’s going to be us.
“This is just going to hurt way more people than it helps.”
The City Council is expected to vote on the mandate during their next meeting on Wednesday September 29th.
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