D.C. will require COVID-19 vaccine proof to enter restaurants, certain indoor venues

Media Credit: File Photo by Dean Whitelaw

Bowser had announced on Monday that she was reinstating the District's indoor mask mandate.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday that many indoor venues will require patrons to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination beginning next month.

Bowser said patrons ages 12 and older visiting higher-risk indoor settings – including restaurants, bars, gyms and entertainment venues – will be required to show proof of receiving at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine starting Jan. 15. Patrons will need to show proof of being fully vaccinated beginning Feb. 15, but she said the requirement will not apply to some indoor settings, including grocery stores and places of worship.

“If you are a resident who is not yet vaccinated and you want to continue enjoying these activities, now’s the time to get vaccinated,” Bowser said at a press conference.

Bowser said patrons can show a physical copy or photo of their Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-issued vaccine card, an immunization record from their vaccine provider or a COVID-19 verification phone app. The requirement will also apply to indoor event and meeting establishments, nightclubs and cultural facilities.

Cases have soared in D.C. in recent days as the Omicron variant becomes the dominant strain in the United States. Bowser had announced on Monday that she was reinstating the District’s indoor mask mandate after repealing the requirement last month.

She said city officials will release more guidance in the coming days for the vaccine requirement, which will carve out exceptions for individuals briefly visiting an establishment, like picking up a food order.

At Wednesday’s press conference, city officials said they had purchased five million rapid antigen tests amid the case surge and an accompanying rise in testing demand. Bowser said she asked the National Guard to help assemble the newly purchased at-home testing kits, which will be distributed to D.C. residents for free.

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