Starting in November, people in Los Angeles will need proof of a COVID-19 vaccination to enter restaurants, bars, coffee shops, stores, museums, gyms, spas, and hair and nail salons. Retailers rarely want to limit their customer base, so rules that allow only the COVID-19 vaccinated to enter and subsequently spend money inside their establishments may serve to hurt those retailers financially.
Note: At the time of this writing, just over 60% of Californians are fully vaccinated. Also, in this article, "the vaccinated" refers only to the COVID-19 vaccine. At the time of this writing, there are no such mandates for the flu or any other type of vaccine.
Los Angelenos will need to show their vaccine card if they want to enter any indoor establishment starting this November. This also applies to outdoor events if those events are large. Some establishments might offer unvaccinated customers an option for entrance: proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test and a valid exemption from the vaccine for health or religious reasons.
Because of this vaccine mandate, unvaccinated people in LA will be left out from going inside practically anywhere except their own homes, grocery stores, and pharmacies. This applies in large part to Black people and Hispanics who have a lower vaccination rate (of about 50%) than do white and Asian people in the Golden State.
The vaccine mandate makes no exceptions for people who have already had COVID-19 and thus have natural immunity. Findings published in Science, for one, indicate that people with natural immunity are better able to fight off the delta variant than their vaccinated counterparts are.
Some LA residents have written letters to the LA City Council, arguing this vaccine mandate is unconstitutional. The response from the Council is that the delta variant surge led to this decision.
That statement, however, goes against the Science -- journal study that is -- which found "people who once had a SARS-CoV-2 infection were much less likely than never-infected, vaccinated people to get delta, develop symptoms from it, or become hospitalized with serious COVID-19." And besides that, nationwide cases of the coronavirus are declining.
What retailers think
You can bet that retailers are celebrating restrictions on patrons entering their establishments (sarcasm mine), especially the fines of up to $5,000 the city will charge any retailer caught letting an unvaccinated person inside for longer than a bathroom visit or to pick up an order.
There's also the issue of employees. Although some corporate leaders support vaccine mandates for employees and customers, Littler, a labor law firm, conducted a survey of employees and found that the top two concerns about mandating vaccination are resistance from unvaccinated employees (75%) and impact on morale for employees faced with this issue (68%).
The National Retail Federation (NRF) made a statement about its commitment to keeping customers and employees safe, but the NRF believes people should get the COVID-19 vaccine voluntarily.
The real estate investor takeaway
If you're considering where to put your commercial real estate investment dollars in Los Angeles, life sciences labs and testing facilities may be a better bet than brick-and-mortar retailers would -- at least for the time being.