LOS ANGELES – Yoga studio owner David Gross felt relieved after Los Angeles adopted a vaccination mandate that is among the strictest in the country, a measure that went into effect Monday that requires proof of shooting for anyone entering a wide variety of businesses, from restaurants to shopping malls. and from theaters to nail and hair salons.
For Gross, the relief came to know that he and his co-owner don’t have to unilaterally decide to verify that their clients are vaccinated. In another part of town, the manager of a struggling nail salon is worried and expects to lose clients. “It’s going to be difficult for us,” said Lucila Vazquez.
Los Angeles is one of a growing number of cities across the United States, including San Francisco and New York, requiring people to show proof of vaccination to enter various types of businesses and locations. But the rules for the country’s second most populous city, called SafePassLA, apply to more types of businesses and other indoor venues, including museums and convention centers.
They are being implemented as new cases have started to rise after a sharp drop from the August peak driven by the delta variant.
It was the time of year in 2020 when the worst peak of the pandemic was just beginning in California, which in January saw an average of 500 people die each day. Los Angeles became the state’s epicenter, and its hospitals were so overcrowded with patients that ambulances idled outside with people struggling to breathe, waiting for the beds to open.
So many people died that the mortuaries reached full capacity and refrigerated trucks were brought in to handle the overflow. This austere scene unfolded as the coronavirus vaccines arrived and California and Los Angeles took aggressive steps to vaccinate people.
Of the estimated 10 million people in Los Angeles County, 80% of eligible residents have now received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 71% of those eligible are fully vaccinated, according to public health officials.
To guard against anything resembling January’s carnage, LA City Council voted 11-2 last month for the ordinance that requires people 12 and older to be fully vaccinated to enter indoor public spaces. , including sports arenas, museums, spas, indoor urban facilities and other Locations.
Negative coronavirus tests within 72 hours of entering these facilities would be required for people with religious or medical exemptions for vaccinations. Customers without proof can still use the outdoor facilities and can briefly enter a business to use the restroom or pick up a food order.
As the order went into effect on Monday, city officials said they would not start enforcing it until November 29 to give businesses time to adjust. A first violation will result in a warning, but subsequent ones could result in fines ranging from $ 1,000 to $ 5,000.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who tested positive for the coronavirus last week while attending the United Nations climate change conference in Scotland, said the mandate would encourage more people to do so. immunize and would make businesses safer for employees and customers.
âVaccinating more Angelenos is our only way out of this pandemic, and we must do everything in our power to keep increasing those numbers,â Garcetti said.
Business groups say the mandate will be confusing because Los Angeles County’s own vaccine rules – which apply to dozens of surrounding communities – are less drastic. Cities are allowed to adopt stricter rules than county ones.
âThere is a huge lack of clarity,â said Sarah Wiltfong, senior policy director at the Los Angeles County Federation of Businesses. For example, most retail stores are exempt. âBut malls and malls are included, which of course includes retail stores,â she said.
The harassment of workers in charge of verifying vaccination is the main concern of members of the business federation, Wiltfong said.
âThis puts employees in a potential position of conflict, when they are not necessarily trained to handle such situations,â she said.
Lounges were particularly affected during the pandemic and were among the last businesses to reopen indoors. Before COVID, Lynda Nail Salon in the Los Feliz neighborhood was regularly packed with clients for hair and nail appointments. On Wednesday morning, only one woman waited for her hair to settle.
Vazquez, who runs the business, said she will follow the new rules even though many of her hair customers have said they won’t come if it requires vaccination.
Gyms and yoga studios like the one co-owned by Gross also come under the order. He doesn’t like his employees playing the role of monitor, checking the immunization status of each client. But now that the rule is in the books, it’s one less decision he and his partner Lydia Stone have to make as they return to Highland Park Yoga for in-person classes.
In anticipation of the new rules, the studio last month started encouraging its regular customers to submit their vaccination cards online so they don’t have to show them at the start of every class. Gross and Stone said it would be heartbreaking to refuse anyone.
“You know, the city council decided, the mayor signed it, and we have no choice but to obey the law,” Gross said, adding that the possibility of being punished for breaking the law. The law “would be extremely damaging” to a yoga business that is barely surviving after being shut down during most of the pandemic.