The city of West Hollywood has moved to mandate vaccines for essentially all employees within city limits, meaning workers at restaurants, bars, and even gyms and retail shops will need to be fully vaccinated by November 1 in order to legally work within the city boundaries. The City Council vote was formalized last night and marks what may be the most stringent vaccination requirement for a Southern California city yet, though there are a few caveats. Beverly Hills Courier reporter Samuel Braslow and NBCLA reporter Robert Kovacik were among the first to report the news.
West Hollywood, a standalone city within Los Angeles County, already moved to require that indoor diners be fully vaccinated by October 11, though unvaccinated diners could eat outside. Customers will not be allowed, after October 11, to simply show a recent negative COVID test in order to dine indoors; it’s proof of vaccination to dine inside or outdoor dining and takeout only. The new vote on executive order number 2021-7, ratified last night, pushes that mandate even further, requiring all employees who perform any onsite duties to be fully vaccinated (as in two shots) by November 1 in order to legally work within city limits. The executive order states simply:
As soon as possible, but no later than November 1, 2021… employers must ensure that all staff who routinely work onsite provide proof of full vaccination. A requirement for patrons to be vaccinated is incomplete if the employees of those business are also unvaccinated.
The council document also includes a lengthy section on the reasoning behind the mandate, saying in part that requiring vaccinations will make employees and diners safer — and it could even lead to an increase in the West Hollywood workforce as a result:
Some businesses have reported a labor shortage. One reason for this may be employees not feeling comfortable returning to work. United States Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has stated businesses that want employees to return to work and stay at work will benefit from vaccine requirements. Dr. Murthy also asserts that these requirements benefit employees.
As for caveats, it’s important to note that this incoming employee vaccination mandate does not cover the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, which handles policing for the city of West Hollywood. While police departments reportedly have vaccination rates that are “far lower” than the public, the city of West Hollywood cannot mandate policy for a countywide public agency. What’s more, the city of West Hollywood may not be able to immediately enforce the worker vaccine mandate for unionized employees within its boundaries; those could require collective bargaining and contract renegotiations.
Otherwise, it’s now full steam ahead for West Hollywood to mandate vaccinations not only for indoor diners but all onsite employees at bars, restaurants, and other retail spaces, including cannabis consumption lounges. The new rules will take effect for diners on October 11, and for workers on November 1. Eater reached out to the city of West Hollywood for comment, but so far has not heard back.
Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health (which covers West Hollywood), meanwhile, will begin to mandate proof of vaccination for customers at bars, nightclubs, and other venues as of October 7. As of now, the county will not require proof of vaccination for restaurant customers, though it does “strongly encourage” businesses to implement their own proof of vaccination requirement.