LA begins enforcing strict mandate requiring proof of vax

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Enforcement begins in Los Angeles for one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the country

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LOS ANGELES — Enforcement began Monday in Los Angeles for one of the strictest vaccine mandates in the country, a sweeping measure that requires everyone entering a variety of businesses from restaurants to theaters and gyms to nail and hair salons. Requires proof of shots.

While the latest order aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus took effect on November 8, city officials have spent the past three weeks providing business owners with the information and resources businesses need to comply.

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“Nobody wants to punish anybody,” said Sharon Tso, the city’s chief legislative analyst, whose office drafted the enforcement rules. “That’s why we’re prioritizing education.”

A first offense would bring a warning but could result in a fine ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. Inspectors along with the Department of Building and Security will implement the mandate, and the city hopes to eventually get assistance from the LA County Public Health Department, Tso said. She didn’t immediately know whether any warnings or citations had been issued on Monday.

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 a variety of businesses and locations. But in the country’s second most populous city, called SafePassLA, the rules apply to a greater variety of businesses and other indoor venues, including concert halls, museums and convention centers.

A sign reminding customers to be ready to show their vaccine cards at Muddy Paw Coffee Shop in the Eagle Rock neighborhood, where owner Darren Laborey said he’s grateful his regulars have happily passed the transfer rules over the past year. have followed. And half.

“We have to adapt to whatever rules are coming to us. And our customers move in with us,” said Labori. He added that those who do not wish to wear a mask or show vaccine proof, can sit in the outdoor patio or grab their coffee and pastries.

A year ago, Los Angeles was becoming the state’s epicenter of the pandemic’s worst spike in California. Till January, an average of 500 people were dying every day across the state.

To guard against another spike in cases, deaths and hospitalizations, the LA City Council voted 11-2 last month for an ordinance that would allow people 12 and older to have access to playgrounds, museums, spas, indoor A thorough vaccination is required to enter indoor public places, including the city. facilities and other places. Retail stores and shopping malls have been exempted.

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

Professional trade groups have said the mandate would create confusion and could present safety concerns for staff checking the immunization status of customers. Labori expressed concern that the rules could place an “undue burden” on small business owners.

“A lot of businesses can’t afford to have employees spend their time at the front door all the time. They don’t have staff,” he said.

Melanie Boleyn happily shows off her vaccine card before having lunch inside Fred’s 62, an upscale diner in the city’s Los Feliz neighborhood.

“I mean, I’m fine with that. If it’s needed to help end things with this pandemic, I’m up for it,” Boleyn said.

While many cold-weather states are seeing a sharp increase in cases, California’s per capita rate has been the nation’s lowest for two months and has kept hospitalizations relatively low after the end of summer.

Over the past two weeks, hospitalizations in Los Angeles County have dropped by about 10%, reflecting a statewide trend. State forecasts show a continued decline through Christmas.

Diane Pullman wore a cloth mask around her neck as she prepared to meet a friend for lunch at Eagle Rock. She holds a digital image of her vaccine card as her phone’s home screen.

“It’s become second nature. Mask on. Vaccine card ready. I honestly don’t find it more disruptive,” Pullman said, adding that he hopes vaccination will be effective on the new Omicron version of the virus spreading overseas.

Omicron has been detected in Canada after first emerging in Africa and then spreading to Europe. The California Department of Public Health warned that “it is only a matter of time” before omicrons are detected in the US.

“The new versions will continue to be developed as long as there are large numbers of unvaccinated people,” the department said in a statement on Sunday, urging residents to get vaccinated and follow mask rules in indoor public places.

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Associated Press video journalist Eugene Garcia contributed to this report.

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