LOS ANGELES — A vote was abruptly delayed Wednesday on a Los Angeles proposal to impose one of the nation’s strictest vaccine mandates to enter indoor businesses and venues, after questions were raised about it creating public confusion and even if it could be enforced.
Members of the Los Angeles City Council generally were supportive on the plan intended to reduce the risk of new surges in the ongoing pandemic, but also acknowledged it was laced with flaws that ranged from who would be subject to fines for violations to whether employees tasked with questioning patrons about their vaccine status could end up in fist-fights.
The ordinance would require patrons at most indoor businesses and venues to be fully vaccinated before entering. It would greatly expand restrictions ordered by Los Angeles County public health officials that are set to take effect next month, potentially creating a confusing system in which different rules could apply in neighboring communities.
Business groups complained about the potential for excessive fines, the challenge of contending with conflicting rules and safety risks for workers being repurposed as vaccine door monitors.
Jot Condie, who heads the California Restaurant Association, said in a statement that the proposal fails to address “the safety risks to our workers, who are expected to enforce a measure that, frankly, brings out the worst in some customers.”
The ordinance is being advanced at a time when virus cases are dropping fast in the county and while political ambitions are in the mix — two council members are running for mayor, as is the city attorney who wrote the proposal.
An expected vote was delayed but the Council will consider it again next week.
Under the ordinance, people eligible for inoculation would be required to be vaccinated to enter indoor public spaces including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, gyms, sports arenas, museums, spas, nail salons, indoor city facilities and other locations. Current eligibility includes people age 12 and up. Negative Coronavirus tests within 72 hours of entry to those places will be required for people with religious or medical exemptions for vaccinations.