Sunday, February 5, 2023

Strict vaccine mandate begins for Los Angeles businesses

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Patrons are now required to test waiters for their COVID-19 vaccines under new city coronavirus rules, before feasting on pancakes, burgers and milkshakes inside a Fred 62 diner in Los Angeles. Have to fork on proofs which are the strictest in the country. .

Greasy Spoon, famous for putting an L.A. spin on diner food, is one of thousands of businesses across the city where patrons were required to show proof of their vaccination status on Monday as new measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus went into effect . .

For general manager Ian Hillen, mandates are just another thing restaurants have to grapple with during the pandemic. Staffing and supply chain issues – he recently had trouble getting napkins and certain types of beer – are more pressing problems.

Over the past few weeks, Fred 62 finally reached the pre-pandemic level of patrons. Hillan is hoping the mandate could prove to be a good thing if more diners feel comfortable eating inside.

“It can help us stay engaged,” Hillen said.

The new rule covers businesses ranging from restaurants to shopping malls and theaters to nail and hair salons. Professional trade groups say the mandate would create confusion and could present safety concerns for staff checking the immunization status of customers.

City officials are giving businesses time to adapt to the new rules and will not begin inspections and enforcement until November 29. Violators will be warned first and fined $1,000 for a second offense. Additional violations will mean increased fines.

“These rules are meant to keep Angelenos safe, and help us get the economy back to full force as quickly as possible,” Harrison Wollman, a spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti, said in a statement. Garcetti tested positive for the virus last week.

“We are committed to working closely with local businesses to have the information and resources they need to better protect their employees and customers,” the statement said.

The new rules caused little disruption at Blue Bottle Coffee in the city’s Los Feliz neighborhood, where a sign on the front door reminded patrons to show proof of vaccinations in order to be allowed to eat indoors.

Manager Matthew Cadena said the morning rush was mostly smooth as customers handed over their vaccine cards or showed pictures of the cards on their cell phones.

“Most people are friendly and understanding,” Cadena said.

The mandate was anticipated at Bodybuilders Gym in the Silverlake neighborhood, where employees have logged the immunization status of patrons in an internal system for months so that the evidence is already verified the next time members arrive at the gym.

Manfred Del Cid, the gym’s assistant general manager, said several patrons volunteered to show their evidence before the mandate began.

“It’s as if our demographic wants to know they are safe,” he said.

Los Angeles is one of a growing number of cities across the US, including San Francisco and New York City, that require people to show proof of vaccination to enter businesses and places.

But the rules in the country’s second most populous city, called SafePassLA, Applicable to more kinds of businesses and other indoor places including museums and convention centers.

Hundreds of people protesting the vaccination mandate for Los Angeles city and county workers rallied in a downtown park on Monday. The “March for Freedom” was organized by a firefighter group that claims such mandates are unconstitutional.

Proof-of-vaccination rules went into effect as new infections spiked in California, following a sharp decline from the August peak driven by the Delta version.

November 2020 was the time of year when the worst of the pandemic was beginning in California. Till January this year, 500 people were dying every day in the state.

Los Angeles became the state’s infection epicenter and its hospitals were so overfilled with patients that ambulances were waiting for beds to open with people struggling to breathe.

So many people died in Los Angeles that morgues reached capacity and refrigerated trucks were brought in to handle the overflow. That terrifying scene went on as the coronavirus vaccines finally arrived and California and Los Angeles moved aggressively to vaccinate people.

Of the nearly 10 million people in Los Angeles County, 80% of eligible residents have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 71% of those eligible have been fully vaccinated, according to public health officials.

To guard against anything like the January massacre, the Los Angeles City Council voted 11-2 last month to approve an ordinance that would allow people 12 and older to have access to playgrounds, museums, spas, including indoor city facilities. A thorough vaccination was required to enter indoor public places. other location.

Negative coronavirus tests are required within 72 hours of entry into establishments that have religious or medical exemptions for vaccination. Customers without proof may still use outdoor facilities and enter businesses for a period of time to use restrooms or take food orders.

Professional trade groups say the mandate will create confusion because Los Angeles County’s own vaccine rules – which apply to dozens of surrounding communities – are less comprehensive. Cities are allowed to pass more stringent rules than counties.

“There is a tremendous lack of clarity,” said Sarah Wiltfong, senior policy manager for the Los Angeles County Business Federation. For example, most retail outlets are exempt. “But shopping malls and shopping centers are included, which certainly includes retail shops,” she said.

Wiltfong said harassment of workers who verify vaccinations is the top concern of trade federation members.

“It puts employees in a potential position of conflict when they are not necessarily trained to handle situations like this,” she said.

At Blue Bottle Coffee, employees ask customers if they want their order “here or to go.” If they say “here,” the employee asks for proof of vaccination. Those who do not show proof have to eat and drink at outdoor tables.

Los Angeles coffee shop customer Danielle Evenson prepared her vaccine card when the patron in front of her in line asked for it. She said she “felt a little safer” after showing her card.

“If you crave coffee very badly, you’ll just put it out there,” she said.


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