LOS ANGELES – A city of Los Angeles mandate requiring patrons to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter many indoor establishments and large outdoor events is being eliminated, with the City Council giving final approval Wednesday to an ordinance scrapping the requirement.
The council voted 13-1, with Councilman Mike Bonin dissenting, to lift the vaccination mandate. The measure passed with an urgency clause, meaning it will take effect as soon as the mayor signs it and it is formally published by the City Clerk’s Office.
Without the urgency clause, the measure would have remained in effect for another 30 days.
The city mandate requires people over age 12 to show proof of vaccination before patronizing indoor restaurants, gyms, entertainment and recreational facilities, personal care establishments and some city buildings. The law also requires people to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID- 19 test to attend outdoor events with 5,000 or more people.
Enforcement of the requirement, which took effect late last year, has been inconsistent, since it largely relied on business owners to conduct the verifications.
Council President Nury Martinez introduced the motion calling for a lifting of the requirements. But even with the mandate being lifted, individual businesses will still be permitted to voluntarily require proof of vaccination from patrons.
Bonin, the lone dissenter on the council, said last week he remains concerned about a possible resurgence of COVID-19.
“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.”
Martinez responded last week by saying, “I agree with you on that,” and noted that the City Council would have to revisit the vaccination mandates “as we learn to live with this pandemic unfortunately.”
Meanwhile, Los Angeles County will align with the state on Friday and lift the requirement that attendees of indoor mega-events with 1,000 or more people — such as sporting events or concerts — show proof of COVID vaccination or a negative test. The county has already dropped its requirement that people show proof of vaccination to patronize indoor portions of bars, nightclubs and lounges or to attend outdoor mega-events.
Vaccine verification or a negative test is still required for workers at healthcare facilities and congregate-care facilities.
The easing of vaccine-verification requirements follows the lifting of other COVID restrictions — such as indoor mask-wearing mandates — in response to dwindling infection and hospitalization numbers.
Despite the easing of such restrictions, county health officials continue to urge precautionary steps against virus spread, noting that the BA.2 subvariant of COVID-19 is slowly beginning to expand locally, and will likely gain a stronger foothold in the county, mirroring the pattern seen overseas and in some East Coast cities.
Health officials continue to urge people to take precautionary measures — including masks — in crowded situations, even though they are no longer mandated.