Interior of a restaurant.
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Violators could face fines up to $5,000 if they constantly disregard the ordinance. 

Los Angeles Mandates Vaccination for Restaurant Customers and Workers

Enforcement will start at the end of November. 

Restaurant diners and employees will soon need to show proof of full vaccination before entering, the Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday.

The vote passed 11-2. Businesses will start checking for vaccination status starting November 4. On November 29, L.A.'s Department of Public Health and Department of Building and Safety will begin enforcing the ordinance. 

Los Angeles joins a growing list of metropolitan areas enforcing a vaccine mandate upon restaurants. Earlier this year, New York City, San Francisco and New Orleans also revealed they would begin requiring proof of vaccination for restaurant entry. New Orleans and New York mandate at least one dose of the vaccine, while San Francisco requires both. Los Angeles will require full vaccination as well, and the mandate impacts food and drink establishments, gyms, shopping centers, museums, spas, nail salons, and other commercial venues. 

Unvaccinated customers can use businesses’ outdoor spaces and can enter the indoor area only for brief moments like using the bathroom and picking up an order. Those who cannot be vaccinated for religious or health reasons must show proof of a negative COVID test and proof of exemption.

Violators could face fines up to $5,000 if they constantly disregard the ordinance. 

"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,” L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. “These new rules will encourage more people to get the shot, and make businesses safer for workers and customers — so that we can save more lives, better protect the vulnerable, and make our communities even safer as we fight this pandemic.”

This mandate differs from L.A. County's guidelines, which call for bar customers to show proof of vaccination, but not restaurant guests.

The city as a whole is relatively well-vaccinated. In Los Angeles, 78 percent of residents 12 and older received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, according to the county's health department. At least 92 percent of residents older than 65 have received one dose.

Lisa Miller, a consumer insights and innovation strategist who has tracked behavior during COVID, found that 37 percent of part-time employees are most likely not be vaccinated, compared to 28 percent for full-time employees. Also, part-time workers were three times more likely to quit versus getting the vaccine to keep their job. Full-time employees were just under two times more likely to quit. 

L.A.'s mandate also comes about a month after President Joe Biden ordered the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to develop guidelines requiring all businesses with more than 100 people, including restaurants, to require vaccination or weekly COVID tests.