The Palm Springs City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to require proof of coronavirus vaccination or recent negative test in order to eat indoors at restaurants and bars. The mandate also applies to large-scale ticketed events. The restaurant and bar mandate applies only to indoor sections — and requires employees to show proof as well.
The mayor of Palm Springs Christie Holstege called an emergency meeting to discuss mask mandates, vaccination requirements and other measures to slow the spread of COVID 19 after seeing an alarming rise in cases in the city, county and state. She says the council has been hearing from business owners across the city for them to take action to prevent another shutdown.
“The Chamber of Commerce sent out a poll to their members hundred thousands of businesses in Palm Springs and the overwhelming majority I think 70% or more of businesses that answered that question about masks about proof of vaccination for events were all in support of additional measures,” says Holstege.
She says a mandate would help businesses not have to police rules on their own, “That’s exactly what we’re hearing from our business community and people say, ‘well it’s just your rule for this business I’m still not going to wear a mask,’ and so having the protection of the city orders makes it official and really the law in the City of Palm Springs.”
Holstege says everything is on the table including mandating the city’s 500 employees to get vaccinated.
Councilmember Geoff Kors says the city lost over $11 million in taxes generated by hotel, motel rooms or short term vacation rentals and as a result had to cut their staff by ten percent and reduce services. He says they took drastic steps to reduce business closures with imposing a moratorium and $1 million dollars in aid, still they struggled to stay afloat.
Kors says the city is seeing a good recovery but the surge is putting those gains in jeopardy, “We’re risking another surge, in fact we’ve seen the largest percent in our waste water testing month to month than we’ve seen throughout the entire pandemic.”
Emily Falappino, the president of the Greater Coachella Valley Chamber of Commerce says business owners are doing their best to keep their doors open, their workforce and customers safe but the constant changing of mandates is confusing, “We have employees who are afraid for their health, who are confused why they might have to wear a mask as an employee and they might not have to wear a mask as a consumer.”
She says consistency and mandates from larger government agencies will hold weight, “We need as a business owners we need the state to be very clear in its communications.”
Falappino says vaccination mandates will be difficult to enforce and there will be a lot of push back but at this point everyone knows the best way to prevent outbreaks and should do their part to keep the economy going and their communities safe.
She says regardless of what happens the community should not take it out on business owners or employees trying to do hold on to their livelihoods rather do everything they can to support them because enough damage has been done and no business can afford to go back, “If we had another shut down that would be detrimental to our economy for years to come.”