Amid fears over the delta coronavirus variant and as Los Angeles County sees a new spike in infections, more restaurants and bars have been requiring customers to show proof that they are vaccinated against COVID-19.
Some businesses also started asking unvaccinated customers to show proof of a negative coronavirus test before entering.
This time, the vaccine requirements are coming from the businesses themselves, not county health officer orders.
That’s the case for several bars and eateries in West Hollywood, including The Abbey Food & Bar, Beaches WeHo, Trunks, The Formosa Cafe and Conservatory, according to the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. L.A. Taco also has a running list of bars requiring vaccine proof, which included 33 businesses as of Monday.
L.A. County has not placed new capacity limits on restaurants, so far only responding to the surge in infections by mandating face masks in all indoor public spaces, including bars and restaurants. Officials have, however, warned that “anything is on the table if things continue to get worse.”
For the past four days in a row, L.A. County has reported more than 3,000 new coronavirus cases daily— a far cry from the case numbers reported during the winter surge, but still a lot worse than where the county stood just a month or two ago.
Officials have stressed the importance of getting more people vaccinated.
“The data overwhelmingly shows the vaccines to be effective at preventing serious illness that causes hospitalization, and death. To really beat back transmission, however, we need to have higher levels of vaccination, particularly among our younger residents,” L.A. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement. “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.”
Conservatory owner Paul Kalt told KTLA the new rules are all about protecting customers and staff, who have struggled through the closures and restrictions mandated by the county earlier in the pandemic.
“We’ve been through so much,” Kalt said. “This pandemic has been crazy, opening, closing… having to let staff go, having to rehire — it’s just been overwhelming. And the fact that we’re still here, we just want to make sure that we stay around.”
The restaurant owner said there were concerns about people reacting negatively, but “we really feel that the benefits outweigh the costs.”
“If people are going to come and not be happy with it, that’s their right, but we feel that it’s our right to protect the safety of our business, our staff and our guests,” Kalt said.
“We’re trying to be flexible, we’re not just saying you have to be vaccinated, we’re giving you the opportunity of also providing a negative COVID test within the past 72 hours,” Kalt said.
Italian restaurant Osteria La Buca in Melrose and Sherman Oaks posted on Instagram last week that it’s requiring all guests to show proof of vaccination, and that a security guard will be checking all guests.
“We haven’t fought this hard, for this long, to let it go awry now,” the post reads. “If you are not vaccinated, please do not argue, this policy will not be broken for anyone.”
It’s not just restaurants and bars now stepping up safeguards as the county contends with a new COVID-19 wave.
Proof of full COVID-19 is now required to attend productions of “Hamilton” at the Hollywood Pantages Theatre and Broadway in Hollywood shows at the Dolby Theatre through Oct. 10.
Government employees are also facing new requirements.
California officials announced last week that state employees who do not provide evidence of vaccination will be required to undergo weekly mandatory testing. The same goes for Los Angeles and Long Beach city employees and health care workers statewide.
Before California lifted most coronavirus restrictions on June 15, when infection rates were lower, officials announced that “verification of fully vaccinated status” or a negative COVID-19 test should be required for large indoor events like concerts and sporting events.
But state officials also said that patrons could self-attest to being vaccinated, essentially allowing an honor system at the large venues.
That remains the case at several major venues, including Staples Center.