The Los Angeles City Council heard a motion on Wednesday that would have many public areas, including indoor restaurants, to require proof of vaccination.
Authored and introduced by Councilwoman Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, the motion would require anyone in restaurants, retail establishments, gyms, movie theaters, stadiums, spas, and concert venues to have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. If a person entering does not have a CDC vaccination card, digital proof, or another valid form of vaccination proof, they will not be allowed inside.
Other details unanswered by the motion, such as which businesses would exactly be restricted, if other businesses such as grocery stores could be added in, and what exactly punishment and enforcement would look like would be added during the ordinance drafting by LA city attorneys. However, the motion have the Chief Legislative Analyst work on a strategy of implementation for the new ordinance, with the City Attorney reporting to the Council on how to get citizen compliance.
An effort to expand vaccination coverage in the city would also come into effect under the motion, with the Community Investment for Families Department to work on vaccination programs and outreach to boost vaccination figures in the city.
Both Martinez and O’Farrell wrote the motion to help combat the growing number of delta variant COVID-19 cases in the city, having been directly inspired by the recently passed New York City ordinance that is similar to their proposal. According to the LA County Department of Public Health, nearly 4,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Wednesday. LA County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer also noted last week that of these new incoming cases, between 91% and 95% have come from those either not fully vaccinated or not vaccinated at all, thus giving more urgency to the motion.
“Enough is enough already,” said Councilwoman Martinez on Wednesday. “Hospital workers are exhausted, moms who have put aside their careers are tired, and our kids cannot afford the loss of another school year. We have three vaccines that work and are readily available, so what’s it going to take?”
In a tweet she added “Today I introduced legislation with Mitch O’ Farrell to require proof of COVID vaccination to enter indoor public spaces throughout the City of LA. So many Angelenos stepped up and did their part. They shouldn’t be penalized with closures by those unwilling to do theirs.”
Today I introduced legislation with @MitchOFarrell to require proof of COVID vaccination to enter indoor public spaces throughout the City of LA.
So many Angelenos stepped up and did their part. They shouldn't be penalized with closures by those unwilling to do theirs. pic.twitter.com/ebj0phJ5wZ
— Nury Martinez (@CD6Nury) August 4, 2021
O’Farrell also released a statement and tweets on Wednesday, reaffirming his stance with Martinez.
“Hard-working Angelenos, their customers and the general public deserve to be safe in public spaces. The vaccines are our most effective form of protection, and the time to act is now,” explained O’Farrell. “Today, Council President Nury and I introduced legislation to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for indoor public settings in Los Angeles.”
— Mitch O'Farrell (@MitchOFarrell) August 4, 2021
Proof of Vaccination motion backlash
Critics of the proposed ordinance lashed back against the plan on Thursday, noting that despite some businesses already requiring vaccination proof, it should remain a decision by the business and not the city, county, or state to decide on.
“A lot of us are still barely hanging on after the lockdowns,” said LA restaurant owner Carlos Paz to the Globe on Thursday. “We need people coming inside, all people.”
“What they are not considering is the people who come to our restaurants in LA. White and Asian groups are a significant part of LA, but for many neighborhoods, it’s almost entirely Latino customers here. And Latinos are really falling behind in vaccinations, we’re way below white and Asian guys. So if they pass this, they are dooming a lot of Latino-run businesses again, which, in LA, is quite a lot of them. And you don’t see a lot of white and Asian people come out to East LA or Boyle Heights to eat, do you?”
“They mean well in protecting people, but they don’t realize the real damage they will do if they pass this. If we enforce it, we lose half our customers. If we don’t, we’re violating the ordinance, and who knows what the fines will be there. The restaurant a few spots down on us is actually starting to figure out which one will cost them less money. It’s like Martinez and O’ Farrell want Latino businesses to fail.”
The motion is due to be voted on as soon as later this month. Should it pass, LA will become the second city to enact such a proof of vaccination measure in the US following New York.