Most Californians favor COVID vaccine requirements even as they’re lifted, poll finds
Most Californians favor keeping COVID-19 vaccine requirements in place even as governments ease the rules, poll finds.
Most Californians still favor COVID-19 restrictions, including requirements to show proof of vaccination at large outdoor gatherings or to enter places like indoor restaurants and bars, a new survey suggests.
The findings from the Public Policy Institute of California, based on a poll conducted March 6-17 of almost 1,700 adults statewide, indicate continued overall support for the sort of health interventions that have been widely relaxed amid dwindling coronavirus cases and COVID-19 hospitalizations.
But the survey also noted wide divides based on political affiliation — illustrating that, as has consistently been the case in a state as large and diverse as California, top-line numbers can belie significant opposition to pandemic-related measures among some groups and in some areas.
Overall, 57% of residents surveyed by the PPIC said they favored requiring proof of vaccination to enter large outdoor gatherings or indoor spaces like restaurants, bars and gyms. Of those surveyed, 41% opposed requiring such proof.
Support was strongest in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles County, two regions that until recently had stringent vaccine-verification rules on their books.
Among all adults, 68% of San Francisco Bay Area residents backed vaccination verification requirements for such venues, as did 60% of those in Los Angeles County, the survey found.
Support was slightly more tepid, 55%, in the Central Valley. And in the Inland Empire and Orange and San Diego counties, residents were essentially evenly split over whether they supported such measures.
Among likely voters statewide, 50% backed vaccination verification rules, while 47% opposed them. By region, 66% of likely voters backed such rules in the Bay Area, followed by 53% in L.A. County, 46% in both Orange and San Diego counties, 44% in the Central Valley and 33% in the Inland Empire.
Requiring proof of vaccination to enter certain spaces was supported by 71% of all Democrats, compared with only 26% of Republicans and 47% of independents, according to the survey.
A significant partisan divide was also apparent on the broader question of whether those surveyed support any sort of restrictions to stymie coronavirus transmission.
Among Democrats, 85% either strongly or somewhat favored controlling the spread with restrictions if necessary, as did 54% of independents. By contrast, 63% of Republicans favored having no restrictions.
The poll found that, overall, 64% of adults either strongly or somewhat favor efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus even if it means having some restrictions; while 32% either strongly or somewhat favor having no restrictions on normal activities, even if that would hurt virus-control efforts.
The PPIC noted “surprisingly large gender differences on this issue,” with 57% of women strongly favoring controlling COVID-19 through restrictions, compared with only 35% of men.
“Across racial/ethnic groups, Latinos are most likely to strongly favor controlling the spread,” the survey found. Fifty-four percent of Latino adults expressed such support, while 40% of white adults did so.
In addition, “Californians with lower educational levels and incomes are more likely to strongly support controlling the spread than those with higher educational and income levels,” the PPIC said.
The survey was published as a number of California cities are phasing out vaccination verification requirements for indoor restaurants and gyms.
The L.A. City Council voted Wednesday to stop requiring restaurants, gyms, movie theaters and a range of other businesses to check if customers are vaccinated in order to use their indoor facilities.
The rules will be changed as soon as the ordinance is signed by the mayor and published, which usually happens within a few days of the mayor’s signing, according to the city clerk’s office.
The move does not prohibit restaurants and other businesses from continuing to ask for proof of vaccination from customers if they choose. Council President Nury Martinez said last week that L.A. was maintaining its proof-of-vaccination requirement for entering indoor portions of city facilities.
The L.A. requirements at restaurants and other businesses outraged some critics who saw them as overreaching, including leaders of the Libertarian Party of Los Angeles County, who had been pushing for a ballot measure to roll back the requirements.
West Hollywood on March 21 ended its vaccination verification requirements for indoor restaurants and gyms. On March 11, Berkeley did the same, while San Francisco on the same date ended a proof of vaccination-or-negative test requirement for indoor restaurants and gyms.
Oakland still has a vaccination verification requirement for indoor restaurants, gyms and theaters.
Times staff writer Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.