As of October 7, “getting carded” has a new meaning.
The County of Los Angeles has mandated that all indoor bars, wineries, breweries, lounges and nightclubs ask for proof of vaccination as of that date.
Proof of at least one dose of a COVID vaccine is required after October 7; after November 7, proof of full vaccination will be mandatory.
Though case rates in L.A. are going down in general, County Health Director Barbara Ferrer says the mandate comes as we enter the holiday season, which brought a surge in cases last year. Additionally, in the coming months as the weather gets cooler, more people will want to sit indoors in a closed environment out of the elements.
Greg Barnett of Nabu Wines in Westlake, is all for it. At his family-run establishment all staff, family and bands are vaccinated. And he’s been checking his patrons for vaccination cards for four weeks. “We’ve had one too many incidents,” he told Valley News Group. “I’m tired of paying for COVID tests after being exposed.” There’s “friendly” signage informing everyone to wear a mask and show proof. “We have people at the door checking ID’s and vaccinations. We see most people searching through their purse or wallet before coming in. We’ve really had no programs,” he said, the continued, “Well, except one. A couple came with a group and weren’t vaccinated. The group, which included doctors, came and sat down, but the two without masks, anti-vaxxers, started yelling at us, saying ‘this is wrong’ and then just stormed out.” Barnett said that he has patio space for those that don’t want to sit indoors. However, he added, “It’s great to know it’s the first time I was in a room full of people that weren’t lying that they were vaccinated.”
Dustin Lancaster, who owns eight bars in the Los Angeles area, has required proof of vaccination to eat indoors at three of them since August. He was quoted in the Los Angeles Times as saying, “If you want to sit inside at a bar, it makes 100% sense to me that you should be vaccinated. The science is there, we know that vaccinations help decrease this, and all of our customers – for the most part – have been incredibly supportive and say, ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m so glad you’re doing this.’”
And what about patrons?
For Andrew, 30, who had to show his vaccine card to attend the music festival BottleRock, it doesn’t seem like such a stretch to be asked to show your inoculation card to attend smaller establishments like bars. “Just like how everyone is entitled to get or not not get the vaccine, I think for individual business owners to make the call to be safer in their own place of work is fair game.”
Fatema, 32, is not opposed to the newest mandate, given that dealing with an unprecedented pandemic means adapting as new measures are implemented. “This is just a measure of safety that we didn’t really understand before the pandemic because we had never gone through it. I believe it is the best decision for the community because ultimately, we have to look out for each other. It’s time for businesses to open up and time for people to have some type of normalcy if at all possible… Hopefully things will just get safer moving forward. I’m excited for it.”
The County is obviously hoping with this measure that the above attitudes hold sway among the general population. Lancaster said the measure should take some pressure off restaurant owners who have been struggling to enforce such requirements.
The Health Department plans to issue “toolkits” to bars and clubs so they can confirm status.
“This is a reasonable path forward that will position us to be better able to break the cycle of surges,” said Ferrer.