L.A. County plans to require COVID vaccine proof at indoor bars, nightclubs and more

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Los Angeles County health officials are planning a new order that will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination at indoor bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs and lounges countywide, the health director announced Wednesday.

The order will also require all attendees and workers at outdoor mega events with crowds of more than 10,000 to show vaccine verification or negative coronavirus tests taken within 72 hours before attending the large events.

In California, attendees of indoor events like concerts and sports games with more than 1,000 attendees were already required to show proof of vaccination or a negative virus test result. The county’s new order extends the safeguards to outdoor events as well.

Outdoor mega events organizers in the county would have to comply by Oct. 7, L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said during a county Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday.

She said the requirement for outdoor events would also apply to theme parks.

Meanwhile, bars, nightclubs, breweries, wineries and lounges would require customers and employees to have at least one dose of the vaccine by Oct. 7, and be fully vaccinated by Nov. 4.

Ferrer said those establishments already require patrons to show identification and only serve adults, who are vaccine-eligible.

And while the health order won’t require it, officials now recommend that restaurants also begin verifying vaccination status for indoor dining.

Health officials are prepared to move forward with the updated order later this week, Ferrer said.

“This modified health officer order aligns with the continued need to reduce risk for transmission and increase vaccination coverage,” Ferrer said. “This is a reasonable path forward that can position us to be better able to break the cycle of surges.”

Ferrer said the county health department will prepare tool kits that businesses can use to help them confirm vaccinations.

Some restaurants and bars have already started requiring customers to show proof that they are vaccinated against COVID-19, or present a negative coronavirus test if they’re unvaccinated.

And government officials have been considering mandates on proof of vaccination for weeks.

In August, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors voted to look into options for requiring residents to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter certain indoor spaces. The L.A. City Council also voted last month to direct the city attorney to draft an ordinance requiring patrons to have at least one dose of the vaccine to be able to enter certain indoor public spaces.

Now, the health officer order would apply countywide — except in Long Beach and Pasadena, which have their own public health departments.

L.A. County Supervisor Hilda Solis said she fully supports the health department’s vaccine proof requirement, but wanted to know how the county will make sure businesses are prepared to implement the new order.

Ferrer told supervisors that for places like nightclubs, the biggest change will be that bouncers won’t just be asking for everyone’s IDs, but also requesting proof of vaccination.

As for large outdoor event venues, Ferrer said those locations have already had experience with vaccine verification, and have the resources to do it.

Shortly after Ferrer’s announcement, the L.A. Philharmonic Association announced that all audience members at the Hollywood Bowl must provide proof of full vaccination or a negative coronavirus test starting Sept. 24.

Goldenvoice, the music events company that puts on Coachella and Stagecoach, previously announced it will require proof of full vaccination for concertgoers and event staff at all of its clubs, venues and festivals.

And the Hollywood Pantages Theatre was also already requiring proof of full vaccination to attend all “Hamilton” shows.

Ferrer said the venues targeted in the forthcoming order were picked because they’re considered higher-risk settings for coronavirus transmission.

“The bars, lounges and nightclubs are just much higher risk because of the activities that people are engaged in,” she said, explaining that inspectors have found that patrons are mostly unmasked and  there’s a lot of close contact.

The health director did note that not all bars share the same risk level.

“This isn’t all bars,” she said. “I mean I want to acknowledge that there are places where people go, it’s super quiet you sit at a quiet table, and the risk would obviously be less.“

But in general, bars are “higher risk settings than restaurants,” she added.

And at large events, inspectors have noticed that masking compliance is “pretty low,” Ferrer told supervisors.

“I think the venues do their best, but masking compliance is pretty low at the outdoor venues,” Ferrer said. “… There’s tons of exposure: people dancing, jumping close together for hours on end.”

How to prove COVID-19 vaccination:

Here are some options for what you can show to prove you’re vaccinated, according to the California Department of Public Health:

  • The white Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 vaccination record card you got when you were vaccinated
  • A photocopy of the vaccine card
  • A photo of the vaccine card on a phone or any other electronic device 
  • Documentation of vaccination from a health care provider 
  • A digital record that includes a QR code that when scanned by a SMART Health Card reader displays your date of birth, vaccine dates and vaccine type
  • Documentation of vaccination from contracted employers who follow these vaccination records guidelines and standards
  • The World Health Organization Yellow Card

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