Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday approved one of the strictest COVID-19 vaccine mandates in the nation, requiring everyone age 12 and over to be fully vaccinated before entering bars, gyms, restaurants or other indoor facilities.
Council voted 11-2 in favor of the ordinance, which is expected to take effect in early November.
Negative coronavirus tests within 72 hours of entry to those places would be required for people with religious or medical exemptions for vaccinations.
Critics have argued that a mandate would amount to the segregation of those who cannot or refuse to be vaccinated. Others say it is unenforceable.
Business trade groups have said the city mandate will sow confusion because Los Angeles County’s own vaccine rules, which apply both in Los Angeles and in surrounding communities, are less sweeping.
However, council members who support the ordinance said it is aimed at reducing the risk of new COVID-19 surges. The nation’s second-most populous city faced a huge rise in infections and hospitalizations last winter and a smaller surge this summer linked to the spread of the highly contagious delta variant.
Mayor Eric Garcetti is expected to sign the ordinance into law. Garcetti expressed his support for a vaccine measure last week, saying, “I don’t want to bury another city employee, police officer, firefighter.”
The ordinance passes at a time when COVID-19 cases are plunging while political ambitions in Los Angeles are rising. Two council members are running for mayor, as is Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, who wrote the proposal.
Of Los Angeles county’s roughly 10 million residents, nearly 80% have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 69% are fully vaccinated, according to public health officials. The county reported 35 new deaths and 964 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday. Health officials said the county has reported 14 deaths a day, on average, even though deaths and hospitalization figures have plunged by some 50% since late August.
The city’s mandate comes as other places across the U.S., including San Francisco and New York City, have been requiring people to show proof of vaccination to enter various types of businesses and venues.
Fox News has reached out to both the city council and the mayor’s office seeking further comment.