DC will require COVID-19 vaccination at restaurants, gyms, entertainment facilities, and other indoor venues beginning Jan. 15, joining a growing list of major US cities to institute the requirement as the Omicron variant spreads.
The district's Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday that patrons ages 12 and older at numerous indoor venues will be required to show proof of coronavirus vaccination to enter under new rules she plans to unveil next month.
Restaurants, bars, nightclubs, theaters, museums, and gyms are among the places cited by Bowser. Grocery stores and houses of worship will be exempt.
The businesses will be required to check vaccine cards or a printout, photograph, or app showing COVID-19 vaccination status, Bowser stated, noting that proof of a negative coronavirus test will not be allowed as an alternative.
One month later, starting Feb. 15, the requirement will be expand from one dose to mandate at least two doses of an mRNA vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson jab for patrons ages 12 and older entering the listed establishments.
Bowser's latest move follows two days after she announced a wave of COVID-19 restrictions to curb an uptick in coronavirus cases.
The crackdown includes reinstating the indoor mask mandate, a vaccine requirement for government workers without a test-out option, and new testing options such as at-home rapid antigen tests for residents.
Bower's measure, requiring the district's businesses to check that customers are vaccinated, mirrors similar intitiatives implemented in other jurisdictions.
Starting on Jan. 3 in Chicago, gym, bar, and restaurant patrons will be required to show both a photo ID and proof of vaccination to enter businesses.
Proof of vaccination will be required for anyone over the age of 5 to be allowed inside for dining, working out, or entering an entertainment venue where food or drinks are served. However, places of worship, restaurants and bars at O'Hare and Midway airports, and grocery stores without indoor dining sections will be exempt, in addition to charitable food services, day care centers, and schools.
The order will remain in effect until the city is "through this Omicron-driven surge and the risk of overwhelming hospital capacity has passed," Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said of Tuesday's announcement, adding: "We will leave no options off the table when it comes to protecting the safety of our residents."
Lightfoot said "we didn't want to get to this point, but we simply have no choice."
"This is what we have to do to keep our health system from being overwhelmed by this new wave," Lightfoot stated at a City Hall news conference.
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