Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he will not force his employees to get vaccinated after the city approved one of the strictest COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the country, saying the issue of COVID-19 vaccines has become “so politicized.”
Speaking during his weekly Q&A on Facebook on Oct. 7, Villanueva said the new mandate puts him in a difficult position where he faces losing more employees at a time when the police force is already struggling with staffing issues.
“I’m not forcing anyone. The issue has become so politicized,” Villanueva said on Thursday. “There are entire groups of employees that are willing to be fired and laid off rather than get vaccinated, so I don’t want to be in a position to lose 5 to 10 percent of my workforce overnight on a vaccine mandate.”
Villanueva added that he is already struggling with “barebones” staffing issues due to the “defund the police” efforts.
“This is like the worst of two worlds right here. So, we have to pick and choose.”
The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department told The Epoch Times it has “no comment at this time.”
The city of Los Angeles approved the new vaccine mandate on Oct. 6, requiring anyone aged 12 or above to provide proof of vaccination to enter indoor venues such as indoor restaurants, gyms, movie theaters, salons, indoor government facilities, shopping centers, and more.
The mandate will become effective as of Nov. 4, but does not apply to pharmacies and grocery stores.
Exceptions will also be made for individuals with valid medical exemptions and for those with a “sincerely held religious belief,” which will be reviewed by the location the person wishes to enter.
For people with religious or medical exemptions, negative COVID-19 tests within 72 hours of entry will be required, according to the ordinance.
Unvaccinated individuals attempting to use government services will be provided with “alternative arrangements for access to government services,” including online or outdoor services, or providing proof of a negative test to enter, as per the mandate.
The city council vote on Oct. 6 was 11–2, with Councilmen John Lee and Joe Buscaino voting to oppose the new mandate.
An executive order from Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis in August also mandated vaccination for over 110,000 county workers.
Similar mandates have also been implemented in New York City, New Orleans, San Francisco, and West Hollywood. A number of countries throughout Europe have also implemented various mandates and vaccine passport-type systems.
LA’s tough mandate has left residents divided. The Epoch Times interviewed residents and visitors at Manhattan Beach, California, pier asking their opinions on the new policy. Out of seven people interviewed, two of them opposed the mandate.
This is not the first time Villanueva has spoken out about vaccines and subsequent mandates. Earlier this year, the sheriff said that forcing vaccinated individuals and those who have already contracted COVID-19 to wear masks indoors is “not backed by science and contradicts the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.”
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.