Vax cards or negative COVID tests: You’ll need more than IDs to enter some LA bars and restaurants

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Today, two members of the LA City Council, president Nury Martinez and Mitch O’Farrell, introduced a measure that would require all Angelenos to show proof of having at least one COVID shot before entering an indoor business, like a bar, restaurant, or gym.

“Enough is enough already” said Martinez. “Let’s put this behind us.”

Meanwhile, some local bars and restaurants are taking matters into their own hands. 

Peter Alexander co-owns Akbar in Silver Lake and requires customers to be vaccinated and to wear masks when ordering. He says it seemed like the logical thing to do, given the rise of COVID cases and breakthrough infections. The bouncer who checks IDs will likewise start checking vaccine cards.

Akbar struggled significantly over the past year and a half, and Alexander says, “It's all we can do to just be open and running. The last thing I need … is for our staff to contract COVID. [The vaccine mandate] is for their protection, and for the protection of clients that choose to come in.”

“We want to stay in business and we want to be there for our people, but in doing so, we’re taking a risk and everybody who comes into our business is taking a risk,” Alexander says. “But that seems to be the new normal.”

Peter Alexander (left) and Scott Craig (right) own Akbar in Silver Lake. Photo courtesy of Peter Alexander. 

Meanwhile, at Conservatory in West Hollywood, owner Paul Kalt allows patrons in if they show either proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test. Kalt has hired additional staff for weekend rushes to check for vaccination proof or negative tests. 

“Overall, what we’re trying to do is minimize the risk,” Kalt says. “There’s no guarantee whether you’ve been vaccinated or not, or tested or not. But what we’re trying to do is ... be somewhat inclusive to our customer base.”

But it isn’t all that difficult to make a fake vaccine card. Much like dealing with fake IDs, it can be tough to distinguish a homemade vaccine card from a real one. Therefore, both Kalt and Alexander must rely on an honor system and hope that their guests are presenting legitimate documentation. However, they both say the majority of their guests have been supportive and understanding of the requirements.

Paul Kalt owns Conservatory in West Hollywood, where customers must show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to enter. Courtesy of Lauren Sheftell.