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Monday, Jul 15, 2024

New ‘Vax Bouncer’ Ordinance May See Scant Enforcement, City Councilmember Says

A Los Angeles ordinance that goes into effect on Monday will require businesses to check the inoculation status of every customer who walks in the door, and newswoman Alex Cohen, moderating a lunchtime panel of city councilmembers today, said what business operators are fretting about: Many don’t like being forced to become “vaccine bouncers.”

The ordinance passed a month ago on an 11-2 vote and requires operators of most every kind of customer-contact business – fitness centers, nail salons, movie theaters and museums as well as bars and restaurants – to throw out customers who can’t or won’t show their vaccination status. Fines range up to $5,000 for businesses that are repeat offenders.

John Lee, one of five city councilmembers appearing at the annual “State of the Valley” luncheon put on by the Greater San Fernando Valley Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that he is one of the two city councilmembers who voted against the ordinance. He said that an unvaccinated customer who sneaks into a business isn’t the one who will be fined. The business will.

 

But at least businesses won’t need to hire a new person to eject unvaccinated customers, said City Councilmember Paul Krekorian. The new ordinance states that the first staff person at a business who’s contacted by a customer must ask to see a that customer’s COVID-19 inoculation record.

“You don’t have to have someone posted at the door,” he said. Therefore, no additional person needs to be hired, he said.

There was discussion that some customers may object and get rowdy – which is another fear of business operators. It’s unclear whether police will vigorously enforce the ordinance since many of them don’t want to get the jab, said Cohen of cable channel Spectrum News One.

Lee said “I think we all know” that the ordinance won’t be effectively enforced, which is another reason he voted against it.

“I don’t want to put something forward that we don’t have the ability to enforce,” Lee said.

On another topic, Krekorian said redistricting city council districts, now under way, could be “devastating” to the Valley. Under one proposal, the number of city councilmembers representing the Valley would be reduced from seven to six. And one new district could be carved out of districts now represented by Krekorian, Monica Rodriguez and Bob Blumenfield.

If that goes forward, a new city councilmember would be appointed to represent that district, which, Krekorian pointed out, means that “there would not be a single person in that district who voted for that person.”

On the issue of supply chain problems and the backlog at the Los Angeles port complex, Krekorian claimed a big part of the problem is the failure of big retailers to move their goods out of warehouses and into stores and fulfilment centers.

“We need to hold those big retailers accountable,” he said.

In a follow-up interview after the luncheon, Krekorian agreed that big retailers are having trouble getting enough truck drivers to move their goods.

“Lack of truck drivers is one (problem),” Krekorian said. “But lack of employees in their stores, honestly, is another. But they have to fix that. We can’t fix that in government.”

More than 120 attend the luncheon at the Hilton Universal City hotel.

Charles Crumpley
Charles Crumpley
Charles Crumpley has been the editor and publisher of the San Fernando Valley Business Journal since March 2016. In June 2021, it was named the best business journal of its size in the country – the fourth time in the last 5 years it won that honor. Crumpley was named best columnist – also for the fourth time in the last 5 years. He serves on two business-supporting boards and has won awards for his civic involvement. Crumpley, a former newspaper reporter, won several national awards and fellowships for his work, and he was a Fulbright scholar to Japan.

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