On Friday, September 10, West Hollywood announced an emergency executive order requiring vaccine proof to enter indoor spaces within city limits. The order comes in an effort to slow the city’s COVID-19 infection rate, and applies to restaurants, bars, gyms, salons, or any other indoor business. The cities of New York and San Francisco took similar steps back in August.
In an online statement, West Hollywood said the new requirement is a response to the high COVID-19 delta variant transmission rate in Los Angeles County and throughout the country. California’s overall transmission rate is far below Texas’s or Florida’s but has officials concerned enough to take extra measures. West Hollywood’s move comes a few weeks after California required vaccinations or regular testing for health care workers and state employees.
West Hollywood’s vaccination verification requirement applies to both patrons and employees. October 11 is the deadline for the new rule, though officials recommend implementing it as soon as possible.
Here’s how the order will play out for restaurants within West Hollywood. All restaurant diners 18 and older must show proof that they are fully vaccinated before stepping foot inside. If unvaccinated, customers can opt to dine outdoors. Businesses must determine the vaccination status of workers by November 1 to work indoors. The requirement applies to workers in restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theaters, cannabis consumption lounges, and entertainment venues.
Diners may not use a recent negative test for entry into indoor areas. If they are unable to show proof of vaccination, they can dine outdoors, or order food to go and remain masked if indoors, according to a West Hollywood spokesperson.
This same spokesperson stated that if an unvaccinated diner seated outside needs to use the restroom, they can enter the interior without showing proof of vaccination. But they must wear a mask.
The following are acceptable forms of vaccination proof:
- A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card, which must include the name of the person vaccinated, the type of vaccine provided, and the date the last dose was administered, or similar documentation issued by another foreign governmental jurisdiction
- A photo or copy of a vaccination card
- A photo of a vaccination card stored on a phone or electronic device
- Proof of vaccination from a healthcare provider
- A digital COVID-19 vaccine record issued by the state of California, or similar documentation issued by another state, local, or foreign governmental jurisdiction. Or by an approved private company.
A handful of exemptions are at play here:
- People under the age of 18 are not required to present proof of vaccination to enter a restaurant or to an employer
- Individuals who work in a restaurant “on an intermittent or occasional basis or for short periods of time” are not required to show vaccination proof. Examples are those delivering packages or goods
- Employers must provide accommodations to any employee who does not receive a vaccination due to a medical condition, disability, or sincerely held religious belief. The details for those exemptions are here
The order doesn’t come as a surprise. On July 21, the West Hollywood City Council directed the city attorney to look into and report back concerning the legal issues surrounding vaccine mandates. On August 16, the council approved a draft to formalize the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, which will become official on September 20. The order also requires city employees, temporary employees, interns, contract personnel, volunteers, and elected or appointed officials who work at city facilities to get vaccinated no later than November 1.
Note: An earlier version of this story did not include the exemptions for West Hollywood’s health order, or guidance on unvaccinated customers using bathrooms.