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What to Know About LA’s Vaccine Requirements

If entering the indoor sections of restaurants or bars, there are new requirements for diners and employees

Nurse gives a vaccine to an after-school coach in Los Angeles.
Nurse gives a vaccine to an after-school coach in Los Angeles.
Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Last week, a handful of COVID-19 proof of vaccine ordinances kicked in throughout Southern California. To enter any indoor public space in West Hollywood, Pasadena, Long Beach, and the City of Los Angeles, proof of vaccine is the way of the future — for now. The mandates are coming into effect as local officials continue to strategize on ways to minimize the spread of the delta variant and any future COVID-19 surges.

The new laws will dramatically change how people dine or drink Southern California, with patrons required to present vaccination proof to drink at the Frolic Room or sit at Ardor’s indoor dining room on Sunset Boulevard. To provide some clarity, below is an explainer for anyone leaving and entering indoor restaurant dining rooms, nightclubs, bars, lounges, breweries, and distilleries.

LA County versus City of LA, West Hollywood, Pasadena, and Long Beach

It’s not obvious but there’s a difference between what LA County can mandate versus what individual cities within the county have enacted. Beginning October 7, LA County began requiring proof of vaccine (or a recent negative test) to enter drinking establishments like bars, lounges, distilleries, wineries, and also large-scale outdoor events (more than 10,000 people).

Individual cities like West Hollywood, Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Pasadena have passed proof of vaccine requirements for patrons entering indoor restaurant dining rooms, gyms, salons, and other indoor spaces. Those requirements have staggered enforcement dates, but Los Angeles’s begins November 4, with proof of at least one vaccine required to enter indoor spaces.

Employees

West Hollywood has moved to mandate vaccines for essentially all eligible employees within its city limits. The deadline for full vaccination status is November 4 for any restaurant, bar, club, gym, or retail employee to legally work within West Hollywood boundaries. Employees and patrons of bars, nightclubs, distilleries, wineries, and lounges in Los Angeles County are also required to get vaccinated by November 4. In addition, anyone entering indoor restaurants, shopping malls, movie theaters, salons, and other indoor spaces in the City of Los Angeles must present proof of full vaccination by November 4, which presumably includes both employees and patrons.

Acceptable forms of vaccine proof

Can’t figure out which vaccine document to keep handy? The California Department of Public Health has you covered:

  • A hard copy of the COVID-19 vaccination card issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or World Health Organization card that includes name of person vaccinated, type of vaccine provided, and date administered
  • A photo of a vaccination card
  • A vaccine card photo stored on a phone or electronic device
  • Vaccine documentation from a healthcare provider
  • A digital record that includes a QR code that when scanned by a SMART Health Card reader displays name, date of birth, vaccine dates, and vaccine type
  • Vaccine documentation from contracted employers who follow these vaccination records guidelines and standards

Children and teens

Parents expressed concerns and questioned how the rules apply to families dining out. The mandates only apply to those who are eligible to be vaccinated at or above the age of 18 in West Hollywood, and above the age of 12 in Los Angeles. Children and teenagers who are ineligible to receive a vaccine are exempt from the mandate. California recently added the COVID-19 vaccine to the required list of vaccines in order to attend public schools in the state once the FDA gives vaccines full approval for children under the age of 18.

Large outdoor events

As of October 7, people must provide proof of vaccination to enter venues like the Hollywood Bowl or anywhere in LA County with more than 10,000 people or more, or show that they’ve tested negative within the last 72 hours. In Pasadena, any large-scale outdoor public events like any Rose Bowl game or the Sunday flea market will accept a recent negative COVID-19 test or vaccine proof as well.

Mask mandates

LA County’s health order states that masks are to be worn by everyone when dining out (between bites and sips of course), regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, even at outdoor mega-events.

Exemptions

West Hollywood mandates are some of the strictest in the region, where negative tests are not an acceptable substitute. Within Los Angeles, presenting a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours of entry is acceptable for people with religious or medical exemptions.

What if restaurants are in violation of the mandate?

Enforcement responsibility falls on restaurant owners. Los Angeles’s ordinance says that if restaurants are caught violating the order, they will be subjected to a warning for the first incident, a $1,000 fine for a second, and up to $5,000 for a third. The city will begin enforcement, though it’s not entirely clear how, beginning November 29.

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