LOS ANGELES (AP) — Public health officials in Los Angeles County will begin requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for patrons and workers at indoor bars, wineries, breweries, lounges and nightclubs next month.
The new initiative in the nation's most populous county begins Oct. 7, with proof of at least one vaccine dose required. By Nov. 4, proof of full vaccination will be mandatory, according to the county's Department of Public Health. Health officials strongly recommend the same precautions for indoor restaurants but have not chosen to mandate proof of vaccination for them.
The new restrictions come ahead of the holiday season, which brought a massive surge to Los Angeles last year. More than 25,000 people have died of the virus countywide and the toll continues to climb amid the more-contagious delta variant.
“This is a reasonable path forward that will position us to be better able to break the cycle of surges,” Barbara Ferrer, the county's public health director, told the Board of Supervisors during a Wednesday meeting.
The county also will require proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours for attendees and workers at outdoor events with at least 10,000 people, including at theme parks. That condition begins Oct. 7 — about a month after football season started.
The same requirement is already in place for indoor events of 1,000 people or more.
The health department plans to issue “toolkits” to businesses so they can confirm vaccine status.
Los Angeles and much of the rest of the state has seen significant improvement with virus infections recently. Statewide, the number of new cases in the last two weeks dropped by 33%, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks California as the state with the lowest number of new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days.
The Central Valley still has some hospitals that are pushed to the breaking point with COVID-19 patients. But overall hospitalizations in California have fallen by about 25% since the start of the month.
LA County reinstated its indoor mask mandate, regardless of vaccination status, on July 17 — just a month after Gov. Gavin Newsom declared California “reopened."
Newsom, who survived a recall election this week, said Wednesday that while 82% of people in California ages 12 and over have received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, more of the state's residents need to get their shots.
“You want to get our economy humming again in this country and this state, you want to keep us sustainably operating at full capacity in every way shape or form, you’ve got to get more people vaccinated," he said.
Newsom said that while he supports LA County's move, he does not plan to follow suit for the whole state.
“We’re satisfied with where the state is today,” he added.
Associated Press Writer Adam Beam in Sacramento contributed.