Sunday, October 24, 2021

Los Angeles approves one of the strictest US vaccination mandates

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Los Angeles leaders on Wednesday approved one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates – a sweeping measure that requires bars, restaurants, nail salons, gyms or even Lakers games Shots will be required for everyone entering.

The city council voted 11-2 in favor of an ordinance that would require proof of complete vaccination by November 4.

The move came after council adjourned a vote last week on whether or not fines could be imposed for violations, ending in a fistfight when employees working as vaccine door monitors can.

Some critics charge that a mandate would be the equivalent of isolating those who cannot or refuse to vaccinate. Others call it unenforceable.

Trade trade groups have said the city’s mandate will create confusion because Los Angeles County’s own vaccine rules – which apply in both Los Angeles and surrounding communities – are less comprehensive.

However, council members who supported the ordinance said that it is aimed at minimizing the risk of new COVID-19 surges. The country’s second-most populous city suffered a massive spike in infections and hospitalizations last winter and a small surge this summer linked to the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant.

Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to sign the ordinance into law. Garcetti expressed his support for a vaccine measure last week, saying: “I don’t want to bury any other city employee, police officer, firefighter.”

The ordinance would require people to be fully vaccinated when entering indoor public places, including shopping malls, restaurants, bars, gyms, playgrounds, museums, spas, nail salons, indoor city facilities and other places. Current vaccine eligibility includes people 12 years of age and older.

Negative coronavirus tests will be required within 72 hours of entry in places that have religious or medical exemptions for vaccination.

Council President Nuri Martinez has said it is clear that vaccines work but despite widespread availability and a door-to-door campaign to vaccinate more people, many remain unconvinced.

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The ordinance comes at a time when political ambitions are rising in Los Angeles while COVID-19 cases are falling – with two council members running for mayor, as the city’s attorney wrote the motion.

Read more: California to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for healthcare workers

Councilor and mayoral candidate Joe Buscaino voted against the mandate. During a council meeting last week he challenged the measure to be “clear as mud” regarding enforcement.

“Let the teens… work as bouncers to keep people in or out of restaurants, and then fine the business for their failure is not the way to go about it,” he said.

Buscaino also noted the conflict between the city’s measure and the county’s vaccination mandate, which only covers patrons and workers at indoor bars, wineries, breweries, lounges and nightclubs.

According to public health officials, 78 percent of the county’s nearly 10 million residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 69 percent have been fully vaccinated.

The county reported 35 new deaths and 964 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Health officials said the county had an average of 14 deaths a day, even though the figures for deaths and hospitalizations have dropped by nearly 50 percent since late August.

Many places throughout the US, including San Francisco and New York City, require people to show proof of vaccination to enter a variety of businesses and locations.

New York City this summer began requiring proof of vaccination to dine inside restaurants and bars or to enter certain types of public places, including museums, theaters, gyms, indoor playgrounds and concert halls.

Compliance has been mixed and purposefully enforced, with the city favoring early warnings for violators and fines for repeat offenders.

Associated Press writer Robert Jablon in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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