Los Angeles officials are set to enact some of the strictest national COVID-19 vaccine validation rules next week, but they do not plan to immediately cite or fine those who violate the new rules.
While the Bay Area crackdown against the In-N-Out Burger is making headlines across the country, Los Angeles officials plan to start with educational and information activities rather than punish businesses right away when the rules go into effect on Monday.
This is similar to the approach of Los Angeles County officials in general. Although both the county and the city have rules that require residents to show proof of vaccination to enter certain businesses, the county rules affect fewer types of establishments than urban ones.
The city’s SafePassLA program will officially begin no earlier than November 29.
Starting from that date, businesses or establishments that violate the rules will be subject to fines – first a warning and then a progressive series of fines ranging from $ 1,000 to $ 5,000 for a fourth or subsequent violation.
“This is not done to punish business. Our businesses can’t afford another stop, ”said Los Angeles City Council President Nuri Martinez. “This is to limit transmission of the virus and save lives.”
City regulations are extensive, requiring proof of full COVID-19 vaccination to enter closed restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters, hair and nail salons, cafes, gyms, museums, bowling alleys, performance areas and other venues.
Attendees to outdoor events with 5,000 or more people will also be required to show proof of being vaccinated or recently tested negative for coronavirus.
“There is widespread support for this measure, and we hope that it will be respected when the requirements go into effect,” said Dan Halden, City Council spokesman Mitch O’Farrell, who was one of the councilors who first proposed the internal requirements.
Los Angeles County, on the other hand, has introduced vaccine validation requirements in only a few business sectors: closed bars, wineries, breweries, distilleries, nightclubs, and lounges.
Initially, visitors and staff at these locations needed to be shown that they had received at least one dose of the vaccine. But as of Thursday, they have to demonstrate that they are fully vaccinated.
The two most commonly used vaccines, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, require two doses, several weeks apart. The third offer from Johnson & Johnson offers only one chance.
The Los Angeles County verification requirement has been in effect for almost a month, but health officials said this week that they have not yet cited any companies for non-compliance.
This is partly philosophy. County officials have regularly stated that they prioritize education over law enforcement when implementing new coronavirus-related health measures.
While it’s still early days, it looks like a lot of companies are already on the line. Between October 16 and October 22, district health inspectors visited 78 bars and found that 85% of them met the requirement to verify the vaccination status of customers.
And preliminary results for the weekend of October 23rd and 24th show that 90% of bars and 100% of lounges and nightclubs visited follow the rules.
“Perhaps because we took a strategic approach to this deployment, and we really reached out to a small group of businesses and institutions, I think we have had more success and greater compliance,” said Barbara Ferrer, county director of public health. Los Angeles. “We did find very little of the rude ‘you know, I just don’t do this’ and a lot more agreement that this is important and good attempts to do it.”
However, she admitted that “this does not mean that he is perfect.”
Some fear that the mismatch between city and county requirements will create confusion among businesses and customers, which could lead to unwitting violations.
County health officials confirmed this week that they are not considering any changes to their rules.
Although city rules are broader, they also allow clients to file written exemptions for religious or medical reasons. However, businesses should require these customers to use open objects or show evidence of a recent negative coronavirus test so that they can go inside if there is no open area.
According to the ruling, visitors without proof of vaccination or exemption from vaccination can briefly enter the toilet or pick up a take-out order.
While the county ordinance specifically states that it applies to patrons who are 12 years of age or older, the city’s vaccination applies to anyone eligible for the vaccine, and from this week it extends to children ages 5-11.
Given that the first young Angelinos were able to roll up their sleeves only a day ago, it is impossible for none of them to be considered fully vaccinated by the time the city’s demands take effect on Monday.
The city’s chief legislative analyst, Sharon Tso, said her office will release a report – likely Friday or Monday – which, among other things, will address the issue of young people who became eligible for the vaccine after the city initially approved its ordinance.
During the pandemic, public health officials often spoke of the need to take a multi-layered approach to stopping the transmission of coronavirus. While activities such as wearing masks in public, observing physical distancing, and especially vaccinations all promote these causes, sharing them increases the level of protection, both on an individual and community basis.
Vaccine testing in factories is another tool, health officials said, especially in the run-up to the crucial winter holiday season.
“This is a great opportunity to see family, friends and loved ones, and I hope everyone has a chance to celebrate, but we want people to do it safely,” said Dr. Christina Gali, Los Angeles County Director of Public Health.
It’s too early to tell how and whether Halloween weekend gatherings and activities could change the trajectory of the pandemic. However, officials and experts were already somewhat worried that development in California after the delta waves had stalled.
Over the past week, the state has reported an average of 5,589 new coronavirus cases per day, up about 4% from two weeks ago, according to data compiled by The Times.
And the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state on Wednesday – 3,914 – is almost 8% more than two weeks ago.
Los Angeles County, the most populous in the country, reflects and shapes the nationwide trend.
According to The Times, the county reported an average of 1,115 new coronavirus cases per day, up 14% from 14 days ago. Over the same period, the number of hospitalizations increased by about 9% to 650 on Wednesday.
Overall, health officials believe California is better prepared for the next resurgence of the coronavirus because so many people have been vaccinated against COVID-19. Roughly 69% of Californians have already received at least one dose, and over 62% are fully vaccinated.
However, with the arrival of winter, colder weather will come and people will increasingly gather indoors, where the risk of coronavirus transmission is higher. Some experts also believe that the coronavirus has a certain seasonality that could make it easier to spread during the colder months.
“I hope that while I’m ready for this increase and of course all of our suppliers are prepared, we hope that at best it’s a small hit and nothing like what we saw last winter.” Ferrer told reporters. Thursday. “But for this we all need.”
Times staff columnist Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.