The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to end the requirement for COVID-19 vaccine verification at many inner city businesses.
The measure would take effect when signed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, allowing the city to stop requiring people to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, gyms , cinemas, concert halls, convention centers, card rooms, play areas, museums, spas, salons and indoor urban facilities.
While LA County has already dropped the vaccine proof requirement, the city had required these companies to verify people’s vaccination status.
Residents will also stop having to show proof of vaccination or recent negative test results at outdoor events with 5,000 or more attendees in the city.
The city’s broad mandate, dubbed SafePassLAwas one of the strictest vaccination mandates in the country when it took effect in November and meant that businesses in Los Angeles had to enforce stricter rules than those in surrounding counties.
With the number of cases falling in recent weeks following the record winter outbreak, City Council Speaker Nury Martinez introduced a motion earlier this month to make vaccine verification voluntary and no longer require proof of vaccination at major outdoor events.
The city council voted on the measure last week. It took a unanimous vote to pass, but only got a 13-to-1 vote. Councilman Mike Bonin was the only one to vote against the measure, saying he was worried about the lifting of the requirements.
Since the measure failed to get enough votes last week, it went to a second procedural vote on Wednesday. This time it only took 12 votes to pass with an emergency clause.
But even if the city lifts the requirement, individual businesses can choose to continue asking customers for their vaccination cards.
The vaccine evidence check vote comes amid concerns over BA.2, a ‘stealth’ sub-variant of omicron that health officials say could again increase the number of infections.
The ratio of samples turning out to be the BA.2 subvariant has increased in LA County, as has the rest of the country.
Between Feb. 27 and March 5, 14.7% of sequenced cases in LA County were found to be BA.2, the LA County Department of Public Health reported. Last week.
That’s more than double what it was the previous week, when BA.2 accounted for 6.4% of sequenced cases in the county.
Concerns about the new subvariant are emerging as California and LA County ease COVID-19 restrictions, including easing masking requirements.
It is not yet known if BA.2 will fuel another major push in the United States
The nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, said he wouldn’t be surprised if the number of cases starts to climb in the United States in the coming weeks, but doesn’t expect another major increase.
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