- Los Angeles City Council voted on Wednesday to require proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to eat indoors or enter shopping malls, coffee shops, gyms, spas, movie theaters and other indoor venues. According to the Los Angeles Times, the requirement will go into effect on Nov. 4 and will expire when the city lifts its emergency declaration for the pandemic.
- In a statement, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, "These new rules will encourage more people to get the shot, and make businesses safer for workers and customers — so that we can save more lives, better protect the vulnerable and make our communities even safer as we fight this pandemic."
- With this measure, Los Angeles joins San Francisco, New York City, New Orleans and King County, Washington, in implementing similar COVID-19-related requirements for indoor dining.
The Los Angeles statute does not apply to outdoor dining, and allows unvaccinated customers to submit proof of a negative COVID-19 test if no outdoor dining space is available.
Los Angeles' measure, like San Francisco's, requires full COVID-19 vaccination to dine indoors. In New Orleans, customers must provide proof of at least one vaccine dose or a negative coronavirus test. The ordinances in all three cities apply to a variety of indoor venues, as well.
Despite the public health emergency, these mandates have faced a number of legal challenges. In August, several restaurant operators sued New York City over its vaccine requirement, arguing the mandate was unconstitutional. The restaurant operators also claimed the mandate was unfair because it did not apply to other businesses, like grocery stores. A Staten Island judge dismissed the suit on September 10.
Concerns about enforcement of the vaccine mandate led Los Angeles Councilman John Buscaino to propose amendments to the rule, including one that would have made it a crime to interfere with employees enforcing the rule. Those amendments failed.
Employees enforcing indoor dining vaccine mandates have faced harassment. In New York City, for example, a hostess was attacked for asking a customer for proof of vaccination. More than half of San Francisco's restaurants have experienced run-ins with customers over its mandate, according to the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and reported by Restaurant Business.
Restaurants also risk losing customers over the mandates. A recent report from Gartner found that just 24% of U.S. consumers support vaccine requirements to dine indoors. Fifty-nine percent of restaurant operators also expect employees to quit rather than comply with President Joe Biden's mandate that employers with 100 or more employees require workers to be vaccinated, according to a recent study from Black Box Intelligence.