[Updated 10/14/21 to reflect that Mayor Garcetti signed the Los Angeles City ordinance.]
Adding yet another layer of confusion into who must receive a COVID-19 vaccine, Los Angeles City Council enacted a vaccine mandate for indoor venutes. This ordinance is not to be confused with the recent Los Angeles County order issued on September 28, 2021 requiring patrons and employees of certain establishments to be vaccinated. Here are five issues employers in Los Angeles should understand about the Los Angeles County and City requirements:
- The City Council will vote on the ordinance next week (the week of October 4, 2021). [Update: On 10/6/21 the City Council passed the ordinance, which which was signed by Mayor Garcetti.]
- The ordinance applies to businesses where food or beverages are served, including, but not limited to, restaurants, bars, fast food establishments, coffee shops, tasting rooms, cafeterias, food courts, breweries, wineries, distilleries, banquet halls, and hotel ballrooms. It also applies to gyms, entertainment and recreation venues, and personal care establishments (such as spas).
- The ordinance does not apply to employees. The ordinance only requires patrons to provide proof of vaccination to enter an indoor portion of a business covered by the ordinance. A patron can be exempted from this requirement due to a medical condition if the patron provides a “self-attestation” that the Patron has a medical condition or a sincerely held religious belief that qualifies the Patron for one of these exemptions. If the patron provides the self-attestation, they can only enter the indoor portion of the establishment if they provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test and photo identification.
- The ordinance requires businesses to display an “advisory notice” informing patrons that, beginning on November 4, 2021, they must provide proof of vaccination in order to enter any indoor portion of the business.
- Enforcement of the ordinance would begin on November 29, 2021, and businesses face progressive fines reaching $5,000 for the fourth and each subsequent violation. There are still questions about how the City will enforce the ordinance. Councilman Joe Buscaino raised this issue this week noting that the city is still researching which agency would enforce the ordinance.
- Los Angeles County order is effective October 7, 2021.
- Bars, breweries, wineries and distilleries:
- From October 7 to November 3, these establishments must require patrons who are 12 years or older to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination status for entry of at least one dose.
- Beginning November 4, 2021, they must require all patrons 12 years or older to provide proof of full vaccination in order to have indoor service.
- By November 4, 2021, all on-site employees must provide proof of full vaccination. Employees are eligible to exemptions based on medical or sincerely held religious beliefs, but these exempted employees must be tested once a week and wear a surgical mask or higher-level respirator.
- Unvaccinated patrons may enter the indoor portion of the establishment for limited time periods for specific reasons, such as using the restroom, picking up an order, or make repairs at the business. However, these individuals must wear a mask.
- Nightclubs and lounges:
- From October 7 to November 3, these establishments must require patrons and on-site personnel to provide proof that they have received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination for indoor service. On November 4, all patrons and on-site personnel must provide proof of being fully vaccinated in order to receive indoor service.
- Employees are eligible to exemptions based on medical or sincerely held religious beliefs, but these exempted employees must be tested once a week and wear a surgical mask or higher-level respirator.
- The County “strongly recommends” that restaurants reserve indoor seating and service for patrons who are fully vaccinated.
- The County’s order provides that restaurants “should” verify the full vaccination status of all patrons who will be seated indoors.
- Limited exceptions for unvaccinated individuals to enter indoors at bars, breweries, wineries, distilleries, nightclubs and lounges: Unvaccinated patrons may enter the indoor portion of the establishment for limited time periods for specific reasons, such as using the restroom, picking up an order, or make repairs at the business. However, these individuals must wear a mask.
Los Angeles County also developed a business toolkit for compliance with the order, which is available here.