LA COVID Rules: Mask, vaccination guidance for out-of-town visitors


COVID-19 won’t keep families apart over the holidays this year, but it may still affect their activities in Southern California. That’s because of the rules the City and County of Los Angeles have imposed on theaters, restaurants and other venues to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The good news is that there’s little you, as a visitor to LA County, can’t do once you’re fully vaccinated – and can prove it.

A year ago, when vaccines were still in clinical trials, there was little you could do. Gov. Gavin Newsom placed much of the state under a curfew just before Thanksgiving last year, barring people from leaving the house for nonessential activities after 10 p.m. allowed only takeaway food in restaurants, severely limited the number of customers in movie theaters and other indoor businesses, and mandated masks and social distancing seemingly everywhere.

This year, theater groups, concert halls, comedy clubs and other nightclubs are back in full swing. Restaurants offer indoor and outdoor seating for guests. Family reunions can take place unhindered. Mask mandates still exist, but “non-essential activities” have been removed from the lexicon.

Which is not to say that COVID-19 has disappeared from this earth. The more time you spend with people from other households, the greater your risk of infection.

Here’s a quick summary of the needs public health officials in the City and County of Los Angeles have as the holiday season begins.

Where proof of vaccination is required

A City of Los Angeles ordinance requires a number of indoor businesses to require proof of a full COVID-19 vaccination before letting you inside. “Full vaccination” means that you received the second vaccination from Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech or the first vaccination from Johnson & Johnson at least two weeks prior.

The city will not begin enforcing the ordinance until November 29. However, numerous LA facilities have been requiring proof of vaccination for several months.

Affected businesses include:

  • Restaurants, bars, food courts and cafes
  • Gyms and group fitness classes
  • Shopping centers
  • Billiard halls, bowling alleys, arcades and card rooms
  • Cinemas, theaters and concert halls
  • Salons, barber shops and tattoo parlors

In addition, outdoor events and attractions in the city attended by 5,000 to 9,999 people must require either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test result obtained within the last 72 hours. Tests are available for free across the city and county at more than 200 pharmacies, clinics, and pop-up sites.

Unvaccinated individuals can apply for an exemption by testifying of a disease or genuine religious belief that excludes them from vaccination, but even in these cases, companies are not required to serve them indoors. Instead, businesses can direct unvaccinated customers to outdoor seating or require proof of a negative COVID test result before letting them inside.

In the rest of Los Angeles County, proof of full vaccination is only required in bars, breweries, wineries, distilleries, nightclubs and lounges. Unvaccinated people can use the outdoor areas of these businesses if they have an outdoor area.

How do you prove that you have been vaccinated?

The city and county offer several ways to document your vaccination:

  • Show a vaccination certificate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the white one), the World Health Organization (the yellow one), or a similar foreign authority.
  • If you don’t want to risk losing your card, show a photocopy – either on paper or on your phone.
  • Present a digital immunization card from the State of California or from a recognized issuer such as Healthvana, or a QR code from a company participating in the SMART Health Card program.
  • Provide another form of documentation from a healthcare provider.

You may also be asked to provide photo ID to verify that the vaccination card is yours.
If you are unvaccinated and asked to provide proof of a negative COVID test, you will need “a printed document, email or text message displayed on a phone from a testing provider or lab” that shows your name, according to the city Type of test performed, the date of the test, and a negative result.

Don’t forget your mask

Vaccinated or not, you will need a mask to take advantage of the lighter COVID restrictions.

The county health ordinance states that with very limited exceptions, customers and guests ages 2 and older are required to wear a face mask in businesses, venues, indoor public spaces, gatherings and large outdoor events except when eating or drinking, showering or staying alone in a room. The mask requirement also applies to anyone who rides public transportation (including taxis and ridesharing services), at transportation hubs, indoors at schools or other “youth” facilities, in healthcare facilities, in jails or jails, or at an animal shelter.

No, you do not have to wear a mask to hike to the Hollywood Sign. Just don’t try to grab a Gamboge Grilled Lemongrass Beef Num Pang for the hike without snagging one. LA COVID Rules: Mask, vaccination guidance for out-of-town visitors

Russell Falcon

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