LA County tightens indoor vaccine mandate as 5Cs assess health conditions

COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card is held.
Patrons of indoor nightclubs and bars in L.A. County now need to provide proof of full COVID-19 vaccination. (Julian Chapin • The Student Life)

On Nov. 4, the city and county of Los Angeles announced new mandates on proof of vaccination for COVID-19. The LA city ordinance is one of the strictest in the country, requiring proof of full vaccination from all eligible customers to enter any “indoor portion of a covered location,” although it won’t be enforced until Nov. 29. 

LA County, which includes Claremont, updated its October vaccine mandate for indoor bars, nightclubs, wineries and breweries — which can no longer allow customers to show a negative COVID-19 test or partial vaccination for entry. Employees of these establishments had to provide full vaccination proof to their employers by Nov. 4. 

In the city of LA, the only exemptions are for those with medical conditions that prevent vaccination or those with sincerely held religious beliefs, who may instead show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours. Customers unwilling to provide proof can still use outdoor venues and may briefly enter a business to use the bathroom or get take-out. It will be up to the businesses to review any exemption claims.

Of the county’s eligible residents, 80 percent have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose and 71 percent are fully vaccinated, according to data through Oct. 31. Claremont continues to lag behind the county at large, reporting about 72 percent of residents older than 12 with at least one dose and 67 percent with a completed regimen. 

As COVID-19 policies have shifted recently at the 5Cs, it’s not yet clear if new area mandates will affect campus life. 

Pomona College Dean of Students Avis Hinkson said she doesn’t anticipate students needing to show proof of vaccination again, as that information is on file. She added that individuals with vaccine exemptions will continue to test on a more frequent schedule.

“We are in the process of determining how we will collect booster information and the timing of that process,” she said via email. 

Similarly, Pitzer College Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Community Relations Jim Marchant said that continuing students will not need to prove their vaccination status at any further point unless booster vaccinations become required by the county. 

Guests who visit Pitzer will not be required to prove their vaccination status, he added.

“Although we encourage it, as well as frequent testing of those not vaccinated, since we are a fully vaccinated campus, it is likely that the only changes [due to the updates] would be if we allowed outside visitors to access the gym and dining hall — which we don’t permit at this time,” Marchant said via email.

More than 99 percent of Pitzer students are fully vaccinated, as are more than 95 percent of faculty and staff, he added.

Hinkson said that at Pomona, guests are currently required to prove their vaccination status or provide a negative COVID-19 test, which will continue. Non-7C guests are still not allowed in residence halls. 

In Claremont, businesses continue to adjust to the seemingly ever-changing COVID-19 policies.

Joyce Patra, manager of the Asian fusion restaurant 50-Fifty in Claremont Village, said she checks the vaccination records of her customers before they are seated. But Patra said that she won’t continue to ask for proof every time a regular customer comes.

“This is all new to us and then we are understaffed and we’re trying to follow all the rules,” she said.

50-Fifty is still doing mostly takeout orders, so Patra has more space to keep distance between customers. 

“It’s so hard,” she said. “I try to ask everyone [for their vaccination card] but like I said, most of my customers are regulars so I know them. And sometimes [I realize] I forgot to ask but I don’t think it’s appropriate when they’re halfway eating and you remember. It’s so difficult.”

Hinkson said that the 5Cs will continue to discuss changes to COVID-19 protocol, including cross-campus dining, through December. 

“We are pleased with the seriousness that Pomona’s community has approached COVID-19 protocols in place to keep our campus safe,” she said. “We are especially proud of the dedication Pomona students have shown to weekly testing. Based on the low numbers of positive cases amongst members of our community, we believe that our protocols have done an excellent job of minimizing the transmission of the disease.”

Marchant said that Pitzer has also been satisfied with the low positivity rate for staff and students this semester. Pitzer will continue to monitor the state of public health in LA County with weekly COVID-19 task force meetings to consider changes to COVID-19 protocol.

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