LOS ANGELES (CNS) — The Los Angeles City Council Friday approved enforcement measures and modifications for its new law requiring Angelenos patronizing indoor restaurants, gyms, entertainment and recreational facilities, personal care establishments and some city buildings to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.
The law went into effect on Monday, but enforcement is not set to begin until Nov. 29. The City Council on Friday tweaked the ordinance, so it will now require proof of vaccinations for only individuals who are 12 years old and over, instead of all eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine, which includes people over the age of 5.
The council also authorized the Department of Building and Safety to issue administrative citations to businesses that violate the ordinance, which will include a $1,000 fine for a second violation, $2,000 fine for a third violation and a $5,000 fine for a fourth and subsequent violations.
Proposed funding for enforcement includes $400,000 for outreach and inspections, $184,207 for salaries and marketing materials and education, and $500,000 for contractual services for the city's VaxUp LA program to provide equitable outreach and awareness about the vaccine.
The council also removed "malls and shopping centers" — which often have multiple points of entry making the law difficult to enforce — from the list of indoor public spaces that require proof of vaccination.
The city's SafePassLA ordinance is one of the strictest mandates of its kind in the nation. Accepted forms of proof of vaccination include:
- a vaccination card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or similar documentation issued by another foreign governmental agency;
- a photocopy of a vaccination card or a photograph stored on a phone or electronic device
- a personal digital COVID-19 vaccination record issued by the State of California or similar documentation issued by another state, local or foreign government jurisdiction, or by a private company
- documentation of a COVID-19 vaccination from a health care provider
People can be exempted from the mandate if they have medical conditions that restrict their ability to get vaccinated or a "sincerely held religious belief," according to the ordinance. Those exemptions will have to be reviewed by the location the person is trying to enter.
People who are exempt will be able to use outdoor areas of the location, but if unavailable, they may be allowed to enter the indoor area by providing proof of a negative COVID-19 test that was conduced within 72 hours.
The ordinance also requires people to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to attend outdoor events with 5,000 or more people, which is stricter than the Los Angeles County requirement, which applies to outdoor events with 10,000 or more people.
Los Angeles County's rules, which are less expansive than the city's, went into effect Nov. 4, requiring people patronizing or working in an indoor bar, winery, brewery, nightclub or lounge in the county to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
"We've spent too much time placing restrictions on people who did their part by getting vaccinated and wearing their masks. We need to both limit the transmission of the virus as well as make it inconvenient for those who are unvaccinated to access indoor venues and put lives at jeopardy. The stakes are too high," Council President Nury Martinez said during the City Council's process approving the ordinance.
Final approval of the city's ordinance was given in an 11-2 vote by council members on Oct. 6.
"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," Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement after the council's vote.
"These new rules will encourage more people to get the shot, and make businesses safer for workers and customers — so that we can save more lives, better protect the vulnerable and make our communities even safer as we fight this pandemic."
For more information on the new city rules, go to ewddlacity.com/index.php/recovery/safepassla.