LA County vaccine rule creates uneven field between bars, restaurants, business owners say

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Thursday, September 16, 2021
Business owners question new LA County vaccine rule
LA County's new vaccine mandate for customers puts different requirements on bars and restaurants, raising questions from some business owners.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A day after Los Angeles County announced stricter vaccine requirements for bar customers, business owners are offering mixed reactions about how the policy will impact the economy while keeping people safe.

The new policy announced this week will require bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs and lounges to require customers to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor areas.

It will require customers to have had at least one dose of vaccine by Oct. 7 and full vaccination by Nov. 4.

RELATED: New LA County health order to require proof of COVID vaccination for indoor areas of bars, wineries

A new L.A. County health order will be issued later this week requiring proof of vaccination for all customers and employees in indoor areas of bars, wineries and lounges.

The policy strongly recommends, but does not require, vaccine checks for restaurants.

Having bars and restaurants fall under a different policy may create an uneven playing field, some business owners say. Especially when some bars serve food and some restaurants have bar areas.

The Sherman restaurant on Ventura Boulevard in Sherman Oaks feels like a bar. But because the business serves food, it falls under the restaurant category and will not be mandated to ask customers for vaccination proof.

Still, owner Theo Mavro says the policy does not seem fair.

"It's mandated for bars," Mavro says. "That's not good for them at all. They've gone through a lot last year and if the unvaccinated people are able to come into our restaurant and we're not checking for them, that would obviously be a bad thing. If it was mandated for us, then it would make it a little easier because then we have to check it."

Bob Kunz, owner of Highland Park Brewery, feels the same way. His establishment serves food but still falls under the required, not voluntary, rules.

"I am actually for this mandate," Kunz says. "I just think that if everybody is on the same playing field, that's operating in the same sector and sphere, it makes more sense."

The county says the requirement is tailored to businesses that are considered to posing a greater risk of coronavirus transmission.

Even though Mavro's restaurant is excluded at this point, he's worried the mandate will cause some customers to stay home.

"We're already in trouble," Mavro says. "Since last year we've been in trouble. We're not going to recover. And I feel less and less people are going to come out."

The Los Angeles City Council is working on a law that would require customers of restaurants and gyms to have at least one dose of the vaccine. Gov. Gavin Newsom supports what the county is doing, but there's no indication the state is planning something similar.