Proof of wax is required as a strict mandate takes effect in LA

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Yoga studio owner David Gross felt relieved after Los Angeles passed a vaccine mandate that is among the strictest in the country, a measure that takes effect Monday and requires proof of shots for everyone who comes into a wide range of businesses from restaurants to malls and theaters to nail and hair salons.

For Gross, the relief came from knowing that he and his co-owner should not unilaterally decide whether to confirm that their customers have been vaccinated. In another part of the city, the manager of a struggling nail salon feels anxious and expects to lose customers. “This is going to be difficult for us,” Lucila Vazquez said.

Los Angeles is among a growing number of cities throughout the United States, including San Francisco and New York City, requiring people to show proof of vaccination to enter various types of businesses and venues. But the rules in the country’s second most populous city, called SafePassLA, apply to several types of businesses and other indoor venues, including museums and convention centers.

They are being implemented as new cases have started to rise after a sharp fall from a peak in August driven by the delta variant.

This was the time of year in 2020 when the worst increase in the pandemic had just begun in California, where in January an average of 500 people died every day. Los Angeles became the epicenter of the state, and its hospitals were so congested with patients that ambulances idled outside with people struggling to breathe, waiting for beds to open.

So many people died that the morgues reached capacity and refrigerated trucks were brought in to deal with the overflow. The sharp scene unfolded as coronavirus vaccines arrived, and California and Los Angeles moved aggressively to inoculate people.

Among LA County’s approximately 10 million people, 80% of eligible residents have now received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, and 71% of those eligible are fully vaccinated, according to public health officials.

To protect itself from anything resembling the January massacre, the LA City Council last month voted 11-2 for the ordinance, which requires people 12 and older to be fully vaccinated to enter indoor public spaces, including sports arenas, museums, spas, indoor city facilities and other locations.

Negative coronavirus tests within 72 hours of admission to these institutions will be required for people with religious or medical exemptions for vaccinations. Customers without proof can still use outdoor facilities and can briefly walk into a business to use a toilet or pick up a food order.

While the order takes effect Monday, city officials say they will not begin enforcing it until Nov. 29 to give businesses time to adjust. An initial offense will result in a warning, but can subsequently result in fines of between $ 1,000 and $ 5,000.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who tested positive for coronavirus last week while attending the UN climate conference in Scotland, said the mandate would encourage more people to be shot and make companies safer for employees and customers.

“Vaccinating more Angelenos is our only way out of this pandemic, and we must do everything in our power to keep pushing those numbers up,” Garcetti said.

Business trade groups say the mandate will create confusion because Los Angeles County’s own vaccine rules – which apply to dozens of surrounding communities – are less comprehensive. Cities are allowed to adopt stricter rules than the counties.

“There’s a huge lack of clarity,” said Sarah Wiltfong, senior policy manager at the Los Angeles County Business Federation. For example, most retail stores are exempt. “But malls and malls are included, which of course includes retail stores,” she said.

Harassment of workers tasked with verifying vaccination is the biggest concern for union members, Wiltfong said.

“This puts employees in a potential conflict position when they are not necessarily trained to handle situations like that,” she said.

Salons were particularly hard hit during the pandemic and were among the last companies to reopen indoors. Before COVID, the Lynda Nail Salon in the Los Feliz neighborhood was regularly filled with clients for hair and nail appointments. Wednesday morning, only one woman was waiting for her hair to curl.

Vazquez, who runs the company, said she will follow the new rules, though many of her hair clients have said they will not come in if it requires getting vaccinated.

Gyms and yoga studios like the one co-owned by Gross also fall under the order. He does not like to have his staff play the role of enforcer checking each client’s vaccination status. But now that the rule is on the books, it’s a minor decision he and his partner Lydia Stone will have to make when navigating Highland Park Yoga back to personal classes.

In anticipation of the new rules, last month the study began encouraging its regular customers to submit their vaccine cards online so they don’t have to show them at the start of each class. Gross and Stone said it would be heartbreaking to reject someone.

“You know, the city council decided, the mayor signed it, and we have no choice but to abide by the law,” Gross said, adding that the possibility of being punished for violating the law “would be hugely harmful” to a yoga company that barely survives after being shut down due to the majority of the pandemic.

Sign up for daily newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

Give a Comment