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Palm Springs requires vaccination or testing at bars, restaurants, large events

Sweeping changes are on the way in Palm Springs when it comes to coronavirus safety measures.

City council passed new precautions at an emergency special meeting to respond to alarming transmission trends with Covid-19.

Vaccines will be required for customers to go inside at restaurants and bars. Those who don't want to get vaccinated can show proof of a negative Covid test from within 72 hours. The change will take effect within three weeks.

On Arenas Road in Palm Springs, six establishments are putting the rule in place effective Friday. It will be up to businesses to enforce themselves.

The move comes as businesses in the city report an increase in hostile interactions with customers over masking. City leaders also brought back a mask mandate when indoors in public as well.

"Businesses want us to do this," Councilmember Geoff Kors said. "They said they'd much rather be able to point and say the city is making us do this when they have customers arguing with them. It is our job to protect public health."

Palm Springs is seeing an increase in Covid-19. New cases have doubled since last week, and they're 27 times higher than six weeks ago.

In the wastewater, which is typically an early indicator for new spikes, there's an estimated 5,700 cases in the community, city staff said.

As the delta variant surges, the city's nearly 500 workers will be required to prove they're vaccinated as well, or they must show recent negative tests.

"We have the responsibility to set an example," said Mayor Pro-Tem Lisa Middleton.

And concern is growing about large gatherings, with major music festival Splash House bringing an estimated 7,000 people to town two weekends in a row at the end of this month.

City council voted unanimously to require gusts of any large-scale ticketed and city-permitted events to be vaccinated with proof, or show negative tests.

"If you want to take a risk for yourself, that's fine, but it's not okay to put other people in harm's way and not get vaccinated," Kors said.

Villagefest was also up for discussion. Vaccines are not expected to be required there, but people will have to mask up even though it's an outdoor event, council said.

The city council also voted to require bars and restaurants with indoor seating to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test at the city's bars and restaurants that have indoor seating.

Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.

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