On Wednesday, October 6, 2021, the Los Angeles City Council voted 11-2 to approve a new ordinance that requires proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor restaurants, shopping centers, movie theaters, hair and nail salons, and a wide variety of other indoor venues. Grocery stores and pharmacies are not included in the ordinance. If religious or medical exemptions are given to an individual, proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours is needed for the individual to enter an indoor space. The ordinance will go into effect on November 4, 2021.
Because the ordinance received 11 votes, it was passed without an urgency provision, which required 12 votes. Two Councilmembers were absent from the vote. Under the Los Angeles municipal code, an urgency ordinance may only be adopted passed by a three-fourths vote of the Council.
The ordinance was the subject of significant public comment. Councilmembers John Lee and Joe Buscaino voted against the ordinance, raising concerns about the burden on businesses and front-line employees to enforce the new rules.
Businesses that violate the rules are subject to escalating penalties under the ordinance. A first violation would result in a warning, followed by a $1,000 fine for a second violation, eventually reaching a $5,000 penalty for a fourth or subsequent violation. Businesses will be subject to these penalties beginning on November 29, 2021.
The Council had done a first reading of the ordinance on September 29, 2021, but had to delay the vote by a week because it was not unanimously supported.
Once the ordinance goes into effect, Los Angeles will have one of the country’s strictest vaccine requirements, joining New York City and San Francisco.