On September 17, 2021, Los Angeles County Department of Public Health (LACDPH) announced a public health order (“the Order”) requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all on-site employees and visitors at indoor bars, breweries, wineries, distilleries, nightclubs, and lounges throughout the county. Effective Thursday, October 7, 2021 at 11:59 P.M., proof of vaccination will be required to enter these establishments, and will be strongly recommended, although not required, for restaurants with indoor dining. Patrons who do not provide proof of vaccination may still be served in outside areas of the venue or enter the indoor portion for pick up or delivery.
The Order requires that both on-site employees and patrons be able to show proof of at least one vaccine dose by October 7, 2021, and to have proof of being fully vaccinated by November 4, 2021. The Order considers a person to be “fully vaccinated” two or more weeks after they have received the second dose in a 2-dose series or two or more weeks after a single-dose vaccine. On-site employees may be exempted from the vaccination requirement upon providing a declination form to their employer, stating they are declining vaccination due to sincerely-held religious beliefs or due to Qualifying Medical Reasons. Employees exempt from the requirement are to be tested for COVID-19 at least once a week, and must wear a surgical mask at all times while working.
The Order provides for verification of vaccination status by having employees and patrons present photo identification accompanied by: (a) a vaccination card; (b) a photo of their vaccination card (printed or stored on a phone or electronic device); or (c) documentation of full COVID-19 vaccination from a healthcare provider. Self-attestation is not permitted for verification of vaccination or as confirmation of test results.
The Order will also require vaccination verification or a negative COVID-19 test within the preceding 72 hours from all attendees, ages 12 and older, and workers at mega outdoor events with 10,000 people or more, beginning October 7, 2021. Mega events include conventions, conferences, expos, concerts, shows, nightclubs, sporting events, live events and entertainment, fairs, festivals, parades, theme parks, amusement parks, water parks, large private events or gatherings, marathons or endurance races, and car shows. In addition, the Order extends a previous California order requiring vaccination or recent negative COVID-19 test for all indoor events with more than 1,000 attendees. While self-attestation at such indoor mega events had previously been allowed, as of September 20, 2021, the California Department of Public Health no longer permits self-attestation as a method of verifying an attendee’s status as fully vaccinated or as proof of a negative COVID-19 test result.
What this means for employers
Employers with employees working in Los Angeles County must be prepared to verify the vaccination status of all on-site employees working in public indoor bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs, and lounges starting October 7, 2021, and must require that staff provide proof of being fully vaccinated by November 4, 2021. Those employers should familiarize themselves with the bases for exemptions. According to the Order, employees claiming a religious or medical exemption must provide their employer with a signed declination form, stating that the worker declines vaccination based on (i) sincerely held religious beliefs or (ii) due to “Qualifying Medical Reasons.” An exemption request based on Qualifying Medical Reasons must be accompanied by a signed written statement from a specified licensed medical professional, affirming that the individual qualifies for an exemption and the duration of that patient’s inability to receive the vaccine. Such medical certifications should not describe the underlying medical condition. As stated above, on-site employees who meet eligibility requirements for an exemption must be tested for COVID-19 with a non-rapid test at least once per week, and must wear a mask that is at least surgical grade at all times while at work.
Employers with employees working at outdoor events with more than 10,000 attendees must also prepare to verify vaccination status or a recent negative COVID-19 test for all workers and attendees.
The LACDPH will be preparing tool kits for businesses to use while confirming vaccinations of patrons, and has also provided Guidance for Verifying Proof of COVID-19 Vaccination and Guidance for Verifying Proof of a Negative COVID-19 Test.
The LACDPH Order requiring all persons to wear face masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, remains in effect.
*Catherine Kang a Law Clerk – Admission Pending (not admitted to the practice of law) in the firm’s Los Angeles office, contributed to the preparation of this post.