Proof of COVID vaccination required for many indoor businesses as mandate takes effect in LA

LOS ANGELES -- People in Los Angeles who visit indoor restaurants, gyms, entertainment and recreational facilities, personal care establishments and some city buildings are now required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 after Monday after a strict mandate took effect Monday, though enforcement of the new law won't begin until Nov. 29.

The city's SafePassLA ordinance is one of the strictest mandates of its kind in the nation, and includes all individuals eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. Accepted forms of proof of vaccination include:

-- a vaccination card issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or similar documentation issued by another foreign governmental agency;

-- a photocopy of a vaccination card or a photograph stored on a phone or electronic device;

-- a personal digital COVID-19 vaccination record issued by the State of California or similar documentation issued by another state, local or foreign government jurisdiction, or by a private company; and

-- documentation of a COVID-19 vaccination from a healthcare provider.

People who appear over the age of 18 will also be required to show identification with their proof of vaccination.

On Monday, officials will begin city outreach and education of the new policy, but actual enforcement will not start until Nov. 29. Businesses violating the ordinance will be issued a $1,000 fine for a second violation, $2,000 fine for a third violation and a $5,000 fine for a fourth and subsequent violations.

People can be exempted from the mandate if they have medical conditions that restrict their ability to get vaccinated or a "sincerely held religious belief,'' according to the ordinance. Those exemptions will have to be reviewed by the location the person is trying to enter.

Among LA county's roughly 10 million people, 80% of eligible residents now have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 71% of those eligible are fully vaccinated, according to public health officials.

To guard against anything resembling the January carnage, the LA City Council voted 11-2 last month for the ordinance that requires people 12 and older to be fully vaccinated to enter indoor public spaces including sports arenas, museums, spas, indoor city facilities and other locations.

Negative coronavirus tests within 72 hours of entry to those establishments would be required for people with religious or medical exemptions for vaccinations. Customers without proof can still use outdoor facilities and can briefly enter a business to use a restroom or pick up a food order.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who tested positive for the coronavirus last week while attending the United Nations climate change conference in Scotland, said the mandate will encourage more people to get shots and make businesses safer for employees and customers.

"Vaccinating more Angelenos is our only way out of this pandemic, and we must do everything in our power to keep pushing those numbers up," Garcetti said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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