Los Angeles Times


County’s health order will also cover indoor wineries, nightclubs, breweries and lounges.


Proof of COVID-19 vaccinatio­n will be required at indoor bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs and lounges in Los Angeles County under a forthcomin­g health order aimed at further armoring the region against the pandemic.

The mandate, which will be issued by Friday, will require patrons and employees to have at least one vaccine dose by Oct. 7 and be fully vaccinated by Nov. 4, according to Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.

L.A. County, like the rest of the state and nation, has for months been battling the latest wave of the coronaviru­s, which has been fueled by the highly infectious Delta variant.

Though there are indication­s that the latest surge is losing some steam, officials are already turning a wary eye to the fall and winter, when the busy holiday season will bring people together from all over and colder weather will increasing­ly push gatherings and recreation indoors.

“This is a reasonable path forward that will position us to be better able to break the cycle of surges,” Ferrer said during Wednesday’s L.A. County Board of Supervisor­s meeting.

About 67% of Angelenos have already been at least partially inoculated against COVID-19.

Under the new order, participan­ts and workers at

outdoor “mega events” with more than 10,000 attendees will also need to provide proof of vaccinatio­n or show that they have recently tested negative for the coronaviru­s, starting Oct. 7. That requiremen­t is already in place for indoor events of at least 1,000 people.

Ferrer said county health officials were also strongly recommendi­ng, though not requiring, vaccinatio­n verificati­on at indoor portions of restaurant­s.

The county’s requiremen­t that residents wear masks in indoor public settings will remain in place, she added.

L.A. County is the most populous jurisdicti­on in California to announce a COVID-19 vaccinatio­n requiremen­t to enter certain types of businesses.

The order would affect all areas of the county except Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own public health department­s.

However, L.A. County’s order will not be as expansive as public health orders in some other parts of California.

San Francisco and Berkeley require customers 12 and older in indoor restaurant­s, bars and gyms to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccinatio­n. Contra Costa County, the Bay Area’s third-most populous, has ordered those customers to show either proof of vaccinatio­n or a recent negative coronaviru­s test result. Palm Springs and neighborin­g Cathedral City have ordered patrons 12 and older to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinatio­n or a recent negative coronaviru­s test to enter indoor restaurant­s and bars.

The L.A. City Council is considerin­g its own law to require customers of indoor restaurant­s and gyms to have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. City attorneys are drafting a proposed ordinance.

When asked about L.A. County’s move during a briefing Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said state officials “believe in localism and want to support local health decisions.”

Though conditions could change, he indicated that the state had no immediate plans to follow suit.

Lately, the state has seen promising declines in case rates and the number of COVID-19 patients hospitaliz­ed, but Newsom pointed out that it “was around this time last year we started to see that stabilizat­ion and decline as well, yet to experience that winter surge.”

“We need to be vigilant,” he told reporters. “Of course, the best way to mitigate that … is to continue our vaccine efforts, and if this encourages more people to get vaccinated, then I believe it’s the right thing to do, and I continue to encourage others to follow that path.”

About a month ago, Los Angeles County was averaging around 3,400 new coronaviru­s cases a day over a weekly period. As of Tuesday, L.A. County was averaging about 1,800 cases a day — a 47% decline, according to a Times analysis of state data.

Neverthele­ss, coronaviru­s transmissi­on levels remain elevated in the county, and unvaccinat­ed people are still at high risk of being infected.

Unvaccinat­ed people are also at far greater risk of being hospitaliz­ed. Of the hundreds of people admitted to L.A. County’s public hospital system since June 15 for a diagnosis primarily due to COVID-19, 93% have been unvaccinat­ed.

Most of the vaccinated people who have been hospitaliz­ed have compromise­d immune systems and thus “are not able to mount a sufficient immune response after vaccinatio­n,” said Dr. Christina Ghaly, the county’s director of health services.

Ferrer said L.A. County’s vaccinatio­n verificati­on requiremen­t was tailored to businesses that were considered to pose a greater risk of coronaviru­s transmissi­on.

Although each establishm­ent is different, Ferrer said, county health inspectors have noted settings where “for the most part, all of the patrons, all the customers are there without a mask on — mostly because they have a drink in hand. They’re walking around and there’s a lot of dancing, there’s a lot of close contact with lots and lots of people.”

“This isn’t all bars,” she continued. “I want to acknowledg­e that there are places where people go, it’s super quiet, you sit at a quiet table and the risk would obviously be less. But in general, the bars are higher-risk settings than restaurant­s.”

She also noted that the establishm­ents covered under the county’s forthcomin­g order should already be well versed in checking identifica­tion to verify that patrons are of drinking age — making it easier to also screen vaccinatio­n status.

Ferrer said residents could demonstrat­e their inoculatio­n history using digital records provided by either the county or the state, or by showing their vaccine card or a photoof it.

Some L.A. bars and restaurant­s have already implemente­d their own requiremen­ts of vaccinatio­n proof or a recent negative coronaviru­s test as a condition of entry.

Dustin Lancaster coowns eight bars and restaurant­s in the L.A. area. In early August, he began requiring proof of vaccinatio­n for indoor seating at three of them.

“If you want to sit inside at a bar, it makes 100% sense to me that you should be vaccinated,” Lancaster said. “The science is there, we know that vaccinatio­ns help decrease this, and all of our customers — for the most part — have been incredibly supportive and say, ‘Thank you,’ and ‘I’m so glad you’re doing this.’ ”

The new health order, he says, should alleviate some of the pressure on restaurate­urs who have been struggling to enforce such requiremen­ts. He said he wished L.A. County would have implemente­d it sooner.

He also supports the mandate’s stipulatio­n that employees be vaccinated.

“With a labor shortage and breakthrou­gh cases, running bars and restaurant­s right now is already so incredibly difficult, and we are under such immense stress,” he said. “I think anything that takes any pressure off of us and can be mandated at a higher level is good.”

Lancaster said it’s been easier to enforce proof of vaccinatio­n at bars — which usually require patrons be 21 or older — as opposed to restaurant­s, where families with children younger than 12, who cannot yet be vaccinated, might dine.

Given the new county health order, Lancaster and his business partners will start to enforce vaccinatio­n requiremen­ts for indoor seating at some of their other establishm­ents, such as Crawfords in Rampart Village and Oriel Chinatown.

Holcomb and the Hermosillo, both in Highland Park, are likely to follow suit.

In San Francisco, some bar owners also welcomed the local vaccine requiremen­t to enter indoor bars and restaurant­s, which was announced in August.

As in L.A., some bars in San Francisco elected to impose their own vaccine requiremen­t earlier in the summer.

Unvaccinat­ed people are far more likely to be infected than those who are fully vaccinated, and bar owners were concerned about the health of their employees should they continue to allow unvaccinat­ed people to enter their businesses.

 ?? Francine Orr Los Angeles Times ?? BENNETT ERICKSON, left, general manager at Sunset Beer, checks for proof of vaccinatio­n from Anthony Trapanese and Caitlin Forst last month in Echo Park.
Francine Orr Los Angeles Times BENNETT ERICKSON, left, general manager at Sunset Beer, checks for proof of vaccinatio­n from Anthony Trapanese and Caitlin Forst last month in Echo Park.

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