Patrons of Long Beach bars and other drinking establishments, what the city calls “high-risk settings,” are now required to show proof of at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination to enter indoor areas.

The city mandate applies to all bars, wineries, breweries, nightclubs and lounges that do not have a permitted kitchen. While not required, the city “strongly recommends” restaurant owners to require vaccine verification for indoor dining.

“We all want to protect our community by reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19,” Mayor Robert Garcia said in a Sept. 21 press release. “Requiring proof of vaccination in high-risk settings is an important step in achieving that.”

Bars and other drinking establishments are most frequently patronized by people in their 20s and 30s, an age group least likely to be vaccinated, according to city data. Less than 64% of Long Beach residents ages 18-34 are vaccinated, compared to more than 67% of people ages 12-17, and over 87% of residents 35 and over.

Employees also must be vaccinated to work indoors in these businesses but may qualify for medical or religious exemption. Exempt staff are required to be tested weekly.

The ordinance expands on Nov. 4, requiring people to be fully vaccinated to work and drink indoors at drinking establishments.

The Long Beach ordinance, which is in line with the county mandate, is tame compared to the city of Los Angeles. In a rare move, the LA city council voted to expand on the county rules, requiring proof of vaccination at indoor restaurants, shopping malls, hair and nail salons, coffee shops, museums and a range of other indoor venues.

Both Long Beach and LA have mostly deferred to county regulations throughout the pandemic.

The LA ordinance expires when the city’s emergency declaration expires. Long Beach, meanwhile, hasn’t “designated a specific sunset for the new vaccine mandate,” according to spokeswoman Jennifer Rice Epstein.

The Long Beach health order also applies to outdoor mega events of 10,000 or more people. Attendees of such events must show proof of vaccination or a negative test from within 72 hours of the event.

Indoor mega event of 1,000 people or more already require proof of vaccination or negative test to enter.

“It is important for people to get their COVID-19 vaccine to protect themselves and others,” the city health order reads. “Data show that people who are vaccinated are much better protected against infection and severe disease.”

In Long Beach, 78% of eligible residents 12 and older have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccination, as of Wednesday, while 69% of eligible residents are fully vaccinated against the disease.

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Brandon Richardson is a reporter and photojournalist for the Long Beach Post and Long Beach Business Journal.