The city of Los Angeles should drop vaccine/testing mandate at city buildings

The city of Los Angeles still will not allow anyone to enter a city building without showing “proof of COVID-19 vaccination or proof of negative COVID-19 test (conducted within the last 72 hours).”

The “advisory notice” appears on city websites and applies not only to City Hall and all municipal government offices, but also to buildings operated by the Department of Recreation and Parks. Inexpensive home tests are not accepted. “Proof of a negative test requires a printed document, email, or text message displayed on a phone from a test provider or laboratory showing the results of a PCR or antigen COVID-19 test,” the city’s advisory states.

This is outdated at best. It’s now well-established that COVID-19 vaccination does not prevent transmission, so if there’s a reason to require a negative lab test result from unvaccinated people, the requirement should apply to vaccinated people as well. But that would be burdensome and expensive for everyone, so perhaps city officials view a universal testing requirement as impractical. That’s not a good reason to continue to impose it on unvaccinated individuals.

The entry restrictions are written into the Los Angeles Municipal Code, in section 200.123. Last March, the City Council removed vaccine verification requirements at indoor businesses such as restaurants, salons, gyms and movie theaters. However, in a May 2022 memo, then-mayor Eric Garcetti reiterated that the entry restrictions in effect since November 2021 would continue at city buildings.

“A City employee at a City facility is required to cross-check proof of vaccination for each individual who appears to be 18 years of age or older against photo identification,” Garcetti wrote.

As a result, city residents who would like to use indoor public recreation facilities are warned by the Department of Recreation and Parks, in all capital letters: “THE LOS ANGELES MUNICIPAL CODE STILL REQUIRES PROOF OF VACCINATION AS A CONDITION OF ENTRY TO ALL INDOOR CITY FACILITIES. FOR THOSE UNABLE TO PROVIDE PROOF OF COVID-19 VACCINATION, ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMMING IS AVAILABLE.” The “alternative programming” includes such offerings as “arts and crafts activities to do at home” and “virtual fitness classes.”

The controlling section of the Municipal Code will “sunset” with the lifting of the city’s COVID state of emergency, if the state of emergency is allowed to end. It’s long past time.

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