Vaccine or negative test: Some SCV businesses prepare for new requirement

Coronavirus. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control
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Bars, wineries, breweries, night clubs and lounges are among some of the local businesses now required to ask patrons to show they’re vaccinated or have had a negative COVID-19 test as of Thursday.

Los Angeles County Department of Public Health officials announced last month certain business sectors would be required to verify vaccines in the indoor portions of their businesses “to reduce risk for transmission and increase vaccination coverage,” Director Barbara Ferrer said.

Until Nov. 3, these businesses are required to either get proof of a negative test within 72 hours or verify at least one dose of the vaccine from patrons who are 12 years of age or older, while full vaccination will be required by Nov. 4, according to the county health officer order.

Patrons who do not provide proof must use the businesses’ outdoor facilities, “where the risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 is less likely,” per the order.

While not required, vaccine verification at indoor portions of restaurants is also recommended by Public Health officials.

The mandate comes as city of Los Angeles officials established an even stricter ordinance requiring L.A. city residents to show proof of vaccination at indoor restaurants, bars, gyms, shopping centers, entertainment venues and personal care establishments by Nov. 29.

The same proof of vaccination or negative test requirement was asked of outdoor mega events countywide with more than 10,000 attendees, such as conventions, concerts, shows, sporting events, fairs, festivals, parades, theme parks and water parks.

Six Flags Magic Mountain announced Wednesday it had updated the park’s health and safety policies in compliance with the mandate, with the press release noting the park had “established operational guidelines and procedures for days which could potentially attract visitors to the ‘mega event’ levels as provided in the county mandates.”

The park is expected to require guests to show proof on those designated days, which includes select weekends through October and approximately a dozen more through the remainder of the year, according to Alexandria French, a Six Flags publicist.

Starting next month, operators of outdoor mega events are also expected to cross-check proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test against a photo ID for those 18 and older.

A Santa Clarita Valley bar owner who asked to speak anonymously, as he does not want to share personal opinions on the matter, noted that he’s unsure how the mandate will affect his business.

“It’s something that any business hasn’t been mandated to do yet,” he said, “but it probably will deter patrons from going out.”

He noted he has mixed feelings on the mandate, as it is designed to keep patrons safe, but hopes those patrons understand the impact and are willing to do what’s necessary to continue to frequent establishments.

Other establishments in the SCV are exempt from the mandate, as they serve food and are therefore designated more as restaurants.

Pocock Brewing Company in Valencia added a kitchen during COVID-19, a decision co-owner Todd Tisdell said was in the pipeline before the pandemic, but the pandemic quickly became the impetus.

“We’d just started the conversation, and then when COVID hit, we put everything on hold because we had no idea what to expect,” Tisdell said. “And after about six months, we realized that restaurants were getting preferential treatment with regards to all of the county mandates.”

While restaurants were still under mandates, those mandates were far less restrictive than those being put on breweries, bars and wineries.

“This is a perfect example of why we did it,” Tisdell said of the vaccine verification requirement.

Public Health also released guidelines for businesses to verify proof of vaccination or negative test, which includes the use of digital vaccination record applications, such as Healthvana, Carbon Health, CommonPass, CLEAR Health Pass, VaxYes and the state Department of Public Health.

Businesses can download the free SMART Health Card verifier app to read the QR code on many of these apps.

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