DAILY BRIEFING: August 5, 2021
Good morning. It's Thursday, August 5. An excessive heat warning remains in effect until 8 PM this evening. Expect a high temperature of 115 degrees. First, some news you need to know ...
Proof of vaccine or negative COVID-19 test soon required for indoor dining, Council decides
Faced with overwhelming evidence that a spike in COVID-19 cases has come to Palm Springs, the City Council voted unanimously Wednesday evening to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to dine indoors at city restaurants. It also approved an order requiring people wear masks inside all businesses, regardless of their vaccination status.
The restaurant rules, which only apply to those eligible for a vaccine, will be phased in over the next three weeks. Enforcement will not be a priority for code enforcement officers, however, and the decision is seen largely as a move to back downtown restaurant and bar owners who are already putting the measures in place.
“If you don’t want to get vaccinated that’s your right. But it’s not your right to put other people at risk.” — Councilmember Geoff Kors
Also approved was a requirement that attendees at large-scale, ticketed events in the city, such as the upcoming Splash House weekends, show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Large, non-ticketed outdoor events, such as VillageFest or city parades, are exempt, although masks will be encouraged.
“This moment did not have to happen,” said Councilmember Geoff Kors during deliberation on the requirements, discussed Wednesday during a special meeting. “And it’s happening because too many people decided not to get vaccinated.
“If you don’t want to get vaccinated that’s your right. But it’s not your right to put other people at risk.”
Similar measures have been approved recently in other cities in California and across the country as a variant of coronavirus spreads rapidly among the unvaccinated.
The moves will be welcome relief for many business owners in the city who pleaded with city leaders this week to put stricter rules in place to help them combat customers who balk at requests to wear masks in their shops. City staff on Wednesday presented the results of multiple polls conducted by local business groups showing overwhelming support for indoor mask mandates and proof of vaccination.
“We’ve learned in the past that swift, decisive action works,” said Jeffrey Bernstein, owner of Destination PSP on North Palm Canyon Drive, during public comments Wednesday evening. “My staff is fully vaccinated, but many are older and some have underlying conditions. By requiring vaccination or a recent negative test it will be much better to deal with this all now than with potential risk in the future.”
Council members made quick work of approving the indoor mask mandates and the requirements for large, ticketed events. They struggled with requirements for indoor dining, however, acknowledging that proactive enforcement would place too much burden on an already-strained police department and city code enforcement officers.
Whether all city employees would be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test was also addressed at the meeting. The Council elected only to ask city staff to explore the issue.
“I believe strongly we have legal authority to impose vaccination requirements or frequent testing for employees and I feel very strongly that we should impose that rule,” said Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Middleton.
Earlier in the meeting, staff members showed evidence to support the requirements. Among that evidence was a report from city engineers that showed samples taken from city wastewater indicate as many as 5,700 cases of COVID-19 could be present in the city as of July 26, up from an estimated 1,700 cases the week before.
Digital proof of vaccine: Anyone in the state of California who has been vaccinated can get a digital record of their vaccine by using the online Digital COVID-19 Vaccine Record portal located here. After entering in a few details you get a link to a QR code and digital copy of your COVID-19 vaccination record.
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FATAL COLLISION: A 59-year-old Palm Springs man was struck and killed by a vehicle Wednesday in the 1600 block of Sunrise Way. Palm Springs police reported they began receiving calls about the collision at 5:30 AM. When they arrived at the scene a short time later, they discovered the man deceased. According to published reports, the man was in a wheelchair attempting to cross the street near East Sandalwood Way when he was struck. Although the exact cause of the collision is still unknown, police said the driver of the vehicle that struck the man remained at the scene and was cooperative. North Sunrise Way was closed at Vista Chino and East Sandalwood Way for approximately four hours while police investigated the incident. Anyone who witnessed the incident is being asked to call the traffic division at 760-323-8562. Anonymous information can also be provided to Crime Stoppers at 760-341-7867.
VACCINES AVAILABLE: One local restaurant is doing its part to help get the community vaccinated against COVID-19, it was announced Wednesday. In partnership with Riverside County, Roly China Fusion will be offering a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for people 12 years and older on Thursday, Aug. 26, from 10 AM until 6 PM. More information is available by calling 951-358-5000.
MIZELL EVENTS: The Mizell Center, 480 S. Sunrise Way, offers nine programs, starting at 8 AM. Today’s complete schedule can be found here. Included in today’s offerings is a memoir writing class at 2 PM in the community room.
FOOD AVAILABLE: FIND Food Bank distributes food in the city today at two locations. From 4 PM until 6 PM, food will be available at the Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros. Food is also available at the community food bank, 610 S. Belardo Road, between 5 PM and 7 PM. That location is open every Thursday. A complete calendar of food distribution in the community this month is available here.
FREE MUSEUM ADMISSION: The Palm Springs Art Museum offers free admission from 5 PM to 7 PM this evening. Tickets are required and can be obtained here.
VILLAGEFEST: The city’s weekly outdoor street fair takes place at 7 PM on Palm Canyon Drive between Amado Road and Tahquitz Canyon. The event includes vendor booths on both sides of the street, which is closed to vehicular traffic.
Want to know what’s happening in your city and at agencies that make decisions affecting your neighborhood? The following links should help.