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‘There will be a security guard out front’: More of L.A. requiring vaccination proof

Visitors to the Grand Central Market are mostly masked
Visitors to the Grand Central Market are mostly masked on Tuesday, July 27, 2021
(Brian van der Brug/Los Angeles Times)

With the Delta variant of the coronavirus spreading, an increasing number of institutions are requiring proof of vaccination in hopes of protecting both workers and the public.

The current surge in cases is hitting the unvaccinated community hard. People who are vaccinated enjoy strong protections.

“The tragic reality is that almost every single person hospitalized and dying from COVID-19 is unvaccinated and these hospitalizations and deaths are, for the most part, preventable,” Barbara Ferrer, the Los Angeles County public health director, said in a statement.

On July 17, Los Angeles County started requiring all residents, regardless of vaccination status, to again wear masks in indoor public spaces as case counts ticked upward. But some governments and private businesses are going a step further, with rules that include proof of vaccination.

So far, 61.9% of L.A. County residents have received at least one dose of vaccine, and 54.2% are fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by The Times.

Here is a rundown of places requiring proof:

Restaurants

A growing number of restaurants want proof of vaccination or a recent negative test.

That uptick followed announcements by at least 33 Los Angeles bars that they also had taken the step, according to L.A. Taco, which has published a running list.

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And on July 26, the San Francisco Bar Owner Alliance announced that it was recommending that its 300-plus member establishments require such proof from patrons who wished to sit indoors.

At least 60 bars and restaurants are requiring proof of vaccination in the Seattle area, according to a list compiled by the Seattle Times. That came after at least a dozen bars were temporarily closed the week before as a result of employees either having contracted the coronavirus or having come into contact with infected individuals, the news outlet reported.

Conservatory in West Hollywood was one of the first L.A. restaurants to take the step, owner Paul Kalt said. Its requirement that diners show either proof of vaccination or a negative test result from the last 72 hours took effect Tuesday.

“We feel that it’s a really hard choice to make, to take this stand, because it’s not always going to be popular with everyone,” Kalt said. “But ultimately, we think that it’s the most responsible thing to do.

“We want to try to stay ahead of the game this time,” he said. “We want to be proactive, and we want to put into place safe and secure measures that protect our staff, protect our guests and hopefully protect the restaurant industry as a whole from being shut down.”

Italian restaurant Osteria La Buca, which has locations in Larchmont and Sherman Oaks, announced that, as of Monday, guests would be required to provide proof of vaccination by showing a vaccination card, photo, scan or digital copy.

“We haven’t fought this hard, for this long, to let it go awry now,” the restaurant wrote on its Instagram page. “There will be a security guard out front checking all guests.”

In Hollywood, L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele has opened an adjacent outdoor lounge that will require that patrons either show a negative coronavirus test from the last 24 hours or submit to a rapid test, which will be provided on site for $12, owner Francesco Zimone said.

The lounge, Caffè Degli Artisti, is meant to provide a safe space for those who are eager to get out again but may not be ready to eat in a restaurant, Zimone said.

“We still have people that call the restaurant now and they say, ‘This is the first time we will get out of the house in a year and a half,’ and they’re super worried,” he said. “How are we accounting for these people?”

Cal State system

California State University — the nation’s largest four-year public university system — will require students, faculty and staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before returning to campus for the fall semester. Medical and religious exemptions will be allowed, with unvaccinated students having to undergo frequent coronavirus testing.

Cal State Chancellor Joseph I. Castro previously said that any vaccination requirement would wait until official federal approval. But plans have shifted because the Food and Drug Administration has not indicated whether it will grant approval by the start of the next semester.

The decision to implement a vaccination requirement was unanimous among all 23 university presidents, said Castro, who also consulted with faculty union, Academic Senate and California State Student Assn. leaders.

UC system

The University of California had earlier said vaccinations would be required before the fall term begins for all students, faculty and others.

“Vaccination is by far the most effective way to prevent severe disease and death after exposure to the virus and to reduce spread of the disease to those who are not able, or not yet eligible, to receive the vaccine,” UC President Michael V. Drake said in a letter to the system’s 10 chancellors.

He said the final policy was the product of consultation with UC infectious disease experts and ongoing review of evidence from medical studies on the dangers of COVID-19 and emerging variants. UC officials also assessed the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines for preventing infection, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, and for reducing its spread.

Local and state governments

Those who work for the state of California or in public or private healthcare settings soon will be required to show proof they’ve been vaccinated against COVID-19.

If they aren’t vaccinated, or decline to show such documentation, they’ll have to be tested regularly for infection.

When the new policy goes into effect next month, state workers will have to show their vaccine status. Those who are unvaccinated, or decline to show proof, will be tested for coronavirus infection at least once a week and will need to wear masks indoors, according to the California Department of Human Resources.

Similar requirements will be in place for public and private healthcare facilities, as well as congregate settings such as jails, homeless shelters and senior living homes. Any unvaccinated employees also will have to wear appropriate personal protective equipment, such as masks.

Lagging vaccination rates among police officers and firefighters, in particular, have spurred concern because those workers interact regularly with the public.

Last week, Los Angeles said it would require city employees to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 or undergo weekly testing to show they have tested negative, Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Nury Martinez announced Tuesday. Garcetti, announcing the new requirements, cited “an alarming spike in cases among our city workforce.”

L.A. could eventually mandate COVID-19 vaccination for city employees without offering testing as an alternative; Garcetti and the council will pursue a vaccine mandate once the FDA grants full approval, the mayor said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Pasadena said it would require all city employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 once the shots received federal approval. The new vaccination requirement came days after about a dozen workers tested positive for the coronavirus and several others were forced to quarantine.

San Francisco decided last month to issue a similar order for its 35,000 municipal workers.

Times staff writers Luke Money, Teresa Watanabe and Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.


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