LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles may remove its mandate requiring ages 12 and up to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination before entering indoor businesses as soon as the end of March.
On March 23, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13–1—with Councilmen Paul Koretz absent and Mike Bonin dissenting—to approve a motion to rescind the COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Since the motion needed a unanimous vote to pass at the first reading, it will be read a second time on March 30, where 12 votes will be required to pass.
Bonin said during the meeting he voted against the motion because of the new Omicron sub-variant.
“I know it feels like we’re out of the woods. It feels like we’re all going back to normal. But there’s new variants and new strains all the time,” he said. “This BA.2 [variant] is spreading, and we really don’t know what the variant a month from now, or two months, are.”
Council President Nury Martinez, who first introduced the motion on March 9, agreed with Bonin, adding that the council may have to revisit vaccine mandates “as we learn to live with this pandemic, unfortunately.”
The city’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which has been in place since Nov. 8, also requires people to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend outdoor events with 5,000 or more people.
If approved, the motion will go into effect immediately under an urgency clause.
During the public comments, Angelenos signaled that they were ready for the vaccine mandates to be over for good.
“Council members, it’s time Los Angeles dropped the vaccine check,” resident Mariett Bennington said in a written comment to the council. “It’s clear that [everyone who] wants to be protected by the vaccine has chosen to receive it … everyone has access to it. Let people choose.”
Los Angeles resident Donna Baker commented that the vaccine requirement was hurting small businesses in the city and that people’s “god-given rights” to choose should be respected.
“You [city councilors] are single-handedly ruining small businesses … Do you want to be left with nothing but big corporations and watch the small mom and pop stores shut down?” Baker wrote. “People do not like being asked to show vaccine cards, people do not like being asked to put on masks. Do you not see small businesses closing everywhere you look?”
Baker urged the council to “stand for freedom” and “follow the science and move on.”
There was no public commenter against removing the indoor vaccine requirement at the meeting.
On the same day, the council also unanimously approved a motion to rescind certain ordinances enacted under the city’s COVID-19 state of emergency.
The regulations that were rescinded included an ordinance that suspended citation enforcement for businesses putting up oversized advertising banners and an ordinance that allowed senior citizens only an exclusive period to shop at grocery stores, though Councilman Bob Blumenfield noted in a June 2021 motion (pdf) that nearly all stores had stopped the program, and the city was no longer enforcing it at the time.
Los Angeles County has already dropped its indoor COVID-19 vaccine requirement and will align with the state on April 1 to lift the requirement for attendees of indoor mega-events—such as sporting events or concerts—to show proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test result.
A spokesperson for Council President Nury Martinez did not respond to a request for comment by press deadline.