L.A. City Council Votes to Move Forward with Drafting an Indoor Proof of Vax Requirement

City leaders still need to figure out what spaces the law would include—and how it would be enforced

As the pandemic resurgence continues, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 Wednesday to direct city attorneys to draft legislation that would require people to have at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine to enter indoor public spaces including restaurants, bars, gyms, theaters, and more. The move comes a week after Council President Nury Martinez and Councilman Mitch O’Farrell first proposed the measure.

Although details of the plan still need to be worked out, and the law would then face a final council vote, O’Farrell was quick to state that the potential ordinance is “not a vaccine mandate.”

“We’re not going to tell someone, anyone, that they have to get vaccinated,” O’Farrell told the Los Angeles Times. “We’re also not going to deny anyone the ability to access essentials—food, medicine, etc.—regardless of vaccination. That wouldn’t be legal, that wouldn’t be moral. But what is immoral is choosing not to get vaccinated, choosing to listen to some delusional rant on Twitter. This is real life. Vaccines work.”

City employees still need to meet with business owners to determine which spaces should be covered by the law, as well as with parents, teachers, pediatricians, and other childcare professionals to discuss how to protect kids under the age of 12, who are not yet eligible for vaccination.

Additionally, the council has to solve the problem of how such a law could be enforced.

Still, Martinez expressed her frustration with vaccine skeptics, telling the paper, “You not being vaccinated actually impacts the health of everyone else, so [the] argument that you have the right to not access the vaccine or get vaccinated just doesn’t work anymore.”

Although the anti-vax faction persists regardless of ever-rising infection numbers—with one letter-writer telling the council that the proposal “is just a way to punish people who aren’t vaccinated,” and calling it “absolutely unscientific and unnecessary”—the California Restaurant Association has voiced cautious support.

The Commercial Workers Local 770, meanwhile, say they’re in favor of the rule provided it calls for a trained “health and safety officer” to enforce it at each retail location, rather than any of its 30,000 members, who the union says have already shouldered the brunt of “anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers” throughout the crisis.

In a letter to the City Council, union President John M. Grant wrote, “It is impossible for retail workers to maintain the store inside and enforce the vaccine requirement outside. Too often companies push the burden of enforcement onto their employees, who are already understaffed.”

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