Business owner and patrons in LA County react to new vaccine mandate

Los Angeles County enacted a new mandate Thursday, now requiring proof of vaccination for all customers and employees at indoor portions of bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs, lounges and distilleries. 

In addition to showing proof of full vaccination, customers will be required to present a photo ID. Customers were required to have at least one dose by Oct. 7, and full vaccination was required by Nov. 4.

The mandate is sparking reaction with some patrons in favor of the rule.

"I think it's great. I think it's an easy way to encourage people to get vaccinated, to stay safe and to do things to get to a new normal," said Annie.

Annie and Trevor were heading to a bar in Hollywood Thursday.

"We're going to a bar right now to get a drink and we will proudly show that we're vaccinated and we're getting our booster shots tomorrow," said Trevor.

Mtume, an LA County resident, was asked to show proof of vaccination at a bar in Hollywood for the first time.

"Previous to this, I had gone a couple of times and they never asked me for anything and then this time I suppose the mandate's in line so they asked me for my vaccine card. I'm vaccinated so I go around pretty freely and it doesn't really matter to me," he said.

Christina, a comedian, said she has noticed the vaccine mandates being enforced at establishments including comedy clubs.

"That was actually my motivation to get vaccinated because I was like oh my god I am not about to miss out on money and opportunity and my career. I appreciate it [the mandate] because at least I know I'm safe," she said.

Tricia La Belle, the President of the Greater Los Angeles Hospitality Association, and the owner of several nightclubs, bars and restaurants like Bon Vivant Market and Cafe and Boardners, La Belle has concerns about the new mandate.  

"I'm speaking on behalf of numerous operators in Los Angeles County. I understand that there's a tremendous amount of fear out there with Covid and there's still a lot of unknowns, but these are crossing boundaries," she said.

RELATED: New vaccine mandate takes effect for large outdoor events in LA County

La Belle said she stays up-to-date with the latest statistics from the CDC, and is a proponent of the vaccine, but believes the mandate goes too far.  

"While I'm a proponent of the vaccine, I think it's something that should be personal and we should have the right to choose. When I've got a 20 year old hostess who doesn't have a lot of experience in life period and she's got someone who can get hostile on her, these kids dont come to work for hostility. With the stress that they're already dealing with, with labor shortages, supply shortages, long distances with outdoor seating they're having to travel, having to take on these extra measures and protocols, I feel it's an abuse," she said.

La Belle said some of her staff is "nervous" about asking patrons for vaccination proof.

"They're nervous because you don't know what someone's reaction is going to be, whether it's going to be an "F-you" or an 'oh no problem, let me get that out for you," she said.

La Belle said she doesn't believe there's enough focus on staying healthy and in shape to curb serious Covid-19 infections, and said her staff followed protocols like social distancing, masking and hand hygiene measures, and none of them got sick.

"I haven't had one of my employees get ill. We have followed all of the mandates and protocols by wearing masks, social distancing and sanitization and the CDC has recognized those are the three key things to stopping the spread of Covid-19. Certainly, my restaurant is proof of it and I don't understand why we have pushed for the vaccine only," she said.

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La Belle said she is concerned about the future of the industry, and believes people may choose to not go to establishments because of the mandate.

"Our small businesses employ young kids going to college but they also employ a tremendous amount of single mothers and minorities in this country and we keep putting that aside," she said.

Customers who do not provide proof of vaccination may still be served in and use the outdoor portions of the facility, "where the risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 is less likely when compared to being indoors," according to the county's health officer order.

RELATED: 72% of Los Angeles County residents aged 12 and up now fully vaccinated against COVID

The county also requires people aged 12 and over attending outdoor mega-events of 10,000 or more people to show proof of either full vaccination or a negative COVID test taken within 72 hours of the event. This applies to ticketed sporting events, outdoor concerts, festivals and theme parks that have 10,000 or more people in attendance.

As of Wednesday, 80% of Los Angeles County residents age 12 and older have received at least one dose of vaccine, while 72% are fully vaccinated, according to the county. Among the county's overall population of 10.3 million people, including those under age 12 who aren't yet eligible for the shots, 69% have received at least one dose, and 61% are fully vaccinated.

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