County considers requiring proof of vaccination for ‘certain indoor spaces’

Los Angeles County Seal.

Los Angeles County officials have just under two weeks to develop a report exploring the possibility of requiring people to show proof that they’ve received the COVID-19 vaccine to access “certain indoor public spaces.” 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to request the report, which will include a review of similar requirements adopted by New York City and France, as well as a possible plan for Los Angeles County. 

“It’s time that we explore the possibility of requiring people to show proof of vaccination for certain indoor spaces,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn, who introduced the motion. 

Her goal with the motion, she said, is to prevent another surge in COVID-19 cases and the creation of new virus variants. 

Hahn has several questions that she wants county staff to address in its report to the board. 

“Should this apply to all public spaces, or maybe we look at just non-essential businesses to require proof of vaccination?” she asked. “In other words, should we just make sure that grocery stores are always accessible to anyone, no matter whether or not they’re vaccinated, as long as they wear a mask?” 

Hahn asked staff to explore the difference between a one-dose and two-dose threshold for a possible requirement and what proof of vaccination would mean for children under 12 years old, who are ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“If we did an indoor vaccination requirement, how would this be enforced?” Hahn also asked. “Would we leave that up to the individual businesses to stand at the door and check proof of vaccination?” 

Hahn said she’s also interested in the impact a proof of vaccination requirement would have on indoor masking requirements. 

Supervisor Kathryn Barger, who represents the Santa Clarita Valley on the board, said she’s received mixed messages about a proof of vaccination requirement from restaurants in her district. 

“One of the common questions is enforcement and concerns about how to do the enforcement,” Barger said. 

She said she’s also heard some restaurant owners who advocated for a mandate. 

“It is cleaner to do it that way,” she said of the restaurateurs seeking a uniform policy for the county. “And some of them are even concerned about the pushback they may get if they mandate vaccinations and the restaurant down the street doesn’t.”  

The “varying degrees of concern,” Barger said, are not “insurmountable.” 

Vaccine mandate for county employees 

The board also gave unanimous approval to an executive order issued by board Chairwoman Hilda Solis mandating the county’s 110,000-person workforce get the COVID-19 vaccine by Oct. 1. 

That approval was followed by passage of a motion creating the same requirement, but with the option for COVID-19 testing for individuals who do not want to get the vaccine. 

Fesia Davenport, the county’s chief executive officer, said Solis’ order outlined the “what,” while the follow-up motion addressed the “how” of the county’s COVID-19 vaccine policy.  

“We know that there will be employees who simply do not want to be vaccinated and so the question becomes what are the options for those employees,” she said, noting that she’s not sure what role testing will play in the policy. “Because his work is dynamic and it’s ongoing, we have not figured it out yet.” 

Barger said the policy should achieve “clarity and consistency,” sharing her appreciation to her colleagues that the executive order and motion are “working in harmony.” 

Highlighting labor, she said, “I think that having labor involved is vital for the clarity and the consistency – to their members and because they are our labor partners and they represent a majority of our workforce.” 

The next meeting of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is scheduled Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. 

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