Mon, 06 Dec 2021

© Provided by Xinhua

Los Angeles patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination to participate in indoor venues such as bars, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms & spas, salons, malls, convention centers, museums, and other indoor public facilities.

by Julia Pierrepont III

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 15 (Xinhua) -- By an 11 to 2 vote, the Los Angeles City Council has voted to expand on Los Angeles County's COVID-19 requirements, passing one of the strictest COVID-19 mandates in the United States. It was signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti to go into effect in the second largest city of the country on Nov. 4.

Los Angeles patrons will be required to show proof of vaccination to participate in indoor venues such as bars, restaurants, movie theaters, gyms & spas, salons, malls, convention centers, museums, and other indoor public facilities.

The ordinance was led by Council President Nury Martinez who introduced the motion to counteract the continuing spikes in COVID-19 cases due to unvaccinated residents, asserting that those who have been vaccinated "deserve to go back to normal."

"No one is forcing anyone to get vaccinated," Martinez told the press. "But if you don't, there are certain things you will not be able to do without showing proof of vaccination."

Marylee Querrero, a young Latinx healthcare worker and private teacher in Los Angeles, told Xinhua Wednesday that she supported the mandate and was frustrated by the small but vocal minority that is complaining that mandates limit their rights.

"Those people are not acknowledging the rights of everyone else -- the majority of people -- to be protected from getting COVID from the unvaccinated and getting sick or even dying. How would that be right?"

"In comparison," she added, "being protected is way more important than a few people demanding to be allowed to do whatever they want, no matter how dangerous it is to everyone else."

© Provided by Xinhua

On the other side of the aisle is Bruce H, a Los Angeles-area photographer, who told Xinhua, "I don't think vaccinations should be mandated. Even if we choose to be unvaccinated, we should be able to live as relatively normal as everyone else."

But Martinez admonished, "We're getting tired of protecting people who do not want to protect themselves and get vaccinated."

Marylee Querrero admitted to Xinhua that she used to be stubbornly against vaccination, but wised up when she did her own research into real facts, not fake news.

"The people I looked up to warned me not to get a vaccine, but it turns out they weren't educated themselves," Querrero told Xinhua. "They were just fear-driven and listening to unsubstantiated rumors on social media that pollute people's minds and whip them into a frenzy of fear and poor decision-making. When I did my own research, it was clear the overwhelming good that the COVID vaccine is doing."

As of Thursday, Los Angeles County reported Friday that 78.5 percent of residents over the age of 12 in the most populous county in the nation have been vaccinated, but the remaining are the problem. The county experienced 19 deaths on Thursday, primarily unvaccinated.

Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County health director, said recently that the country shouldn't wait to take action until the fatal disease spread spikes again and that proof of vaccine requirements will help the county break its "cycle of surges" that has plagued it since the pandemic began.

© Provided by Xinhua

There are a few exemptions from the city's mandate. Anyone who attests to having a religious or medical reason for not getting vaccinated can opt to show a negative coronavirus test taken within 72 hours of entering the indoor event or area. Unvaccinated patrons who don't qualify for an exemption can still use outdoor areas of the venues and briefly use the facilities if they are wearing masks.

To build consensus, the Los Angeles City Council worked closely with business owners to craft the ordinance. It's designed so to protect residents by helping to reduce the continued spike in Delta variant cases while allowing businesses to reopen fully.

Reaction by business owners has been largely supportive, council President Martinez reported, though some still struggling back from the lockdown are concerned about what turning unvaccinated customers away will do to their bottom line.

"I feel like it's necessary, but it is definitely going to hinder some regular business procedures," said Curtis Park, owner of Coffee Memes cafe in Silver Lake, according to KTLA. "I'm kind of happy, kind of worried."

"It makes sense and we're glad to be able to reopen safely," a restaurant owner in Sunland, a community in Los Angeles, told Xinhua. "We can rebuild our business now without putting our customers at higher risk." She asked to remain nameless for fear of alienating unvaccinated customers who order take out from her restaurant.

Los Angeles' mandate enforcement measures will include 1,000 U.S. dollars citations levied against venues that admit non-vaccinated patrons and higher amounts for subsequent violations.

© Provided by Xinhua

The mandate also applies to first responders, healthcare workers such as doctors and nurses, as well as all other workers in healthcare facilities, like technicians and janitors. This has sparked some debate and a lot of support.

Some Beverly Hills firefighters protested against the vaccine mandate this week, while most healthcare first responders and hospitals said they support the measure and don't expect significant pushback from their staffs, reporting up to a 95 percent in-house vaccination rate already.

The California Nurses Association strongly supports vaccination, stating "all eligible people should be vaccinated," while leaving a few limited loopholes for medical and religious exemptions.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has also mandated that schools and schoolteachers must comply with vaccination mandates, making California the first state in the union to require all kindergarten through 12th grade public and private school teachers, staff and now students to be vaccinated.

Younger students will be exempt from the ruling until the federal government approves vaccinations for children in younger age groups, but will still need to present negative COVID-19 tests. The federal government has granted emergency approval for vaccines for ages 12 to 15, but permanent approval likely won't be forthcoming until January.

But as of now, all California students over 16 who wish to attend school in person must be vaccinated. Students who refuse to be vaccinated can only attend school online.

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