Starting Monday, anyone entering a Los Angeles shopping mall, gym, nail salon, theater, or a similar business must have to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination first as the city’s vaccine mandate officially goes into effect.
Some businesses told local news outlets that they will attempt to enforce the mandate.
“We’ll try to enforce it to the best of our ability,” Julian Andrei, founder and managing partner of Strada Eateria And Bar, told NBC. “If somebody for some reason forgets their proof of vaccination, then we can seat them in our courtyard or front patio,” he added.
Ahead of the mandate going into effect, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti claimed it would raise the vaccination rates in Los Angeles County.
“Vaccinating more Angelenos is our only way out of this pandemic, and we must do everything in our power to keep pushing those numbers up,” Garcetti said, according to The Associated Press.
Business trade groups say the city’s mandate will sow confusion because Los Angeles County’s own vaccine rules—which apply to dozens of surrounding communities—are less sweeping. Cities are allowed to pass rules more stringent than the county’s.
“There’s a tremendous lack of clarity,” Sarah Wiltfong, senior policy manager at the Los Angeles County Business Federation, told AP. For example, most retail shops are exempt. “But shopping malls and shopping centers are included, which of course includes retail shops,” she said.
Harassment of workers who are tasked with verifying vaccination is the top concern of the business federation’s members, Wiltfong said.
“This puts employees in a potential position of conflict, when they’re not necessarily trained to handle situations like that,” she said.
The new rules come after the Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance several weeks ago. It also affects restaurants, bars, concert venues, convention centers, card rooms, play areas, museums, and city facilities. Those who self-attest to having a medical or religious exemption can provide a negative COVID-19 test taken during the previous 72 hours.
Other than Los Angeles, several California cities including San Francisco also have imposed proof-of-vaccination mandates to enter restaurants, gyms, theaters, and similar venues. New York City became likely the first in the United States to mandate vaccines, with enforcement starting in mid-September.
Opponents of vaccine mandates say that such systems will create a two-tiered society that unfairly punishes those who choose to remain unvaccinated. Meanwhile, a number of studies have shown that fully vaccinated individuals can still transmit COVID-19, the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, to other, fully vaccinated individuals, although public health officials have said that vaccines can protect recipients from severe disease or death.