DC prepares for Winter Restaurant Week with new COVID vaccination entry rule

On Monday, Winter Restaurant Week will kick off in the nation’s capital, but when diners show up, they’ll need more than a credit card to enjoy their meal — they’ll also need to show proof of vaccination.

During a news conference kicking off the special week of dining, which runs from Jan. 17-23, John Falcicchio, D.C.’s Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, said the week will give more people a chance to try out D.C. restaurants.

“It’s an opportunity for us to actually experience D.C. in a way that we haven’t before,” Falcicchio said.

Gavin Coleman, Owner of Dauphine’s in Northwest, said the event will help as restaurants cope with normally difficult winter months that have been made worse by the spike in coronavirus cases.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make a safe experience for you and then hopefully help you forget the pandemic and enjoy the restaurants, and have a special night out,” Coleman said.

Before the event kicks off, restaurants will already be three days into a new city rule that requires them to check the vaccination status, along with the IDs, of adults who come into their establishments.

While the city will allow businesses to accept multiple different types of proof of vaccination, it does not require businesses to accept everything.

“Each business can implement this and go stricter than the requirement,” Falcicchio said.

Currently, some people use apps, while others use a physical copy or picture of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card to prove they’ve had their shots.

Because businesses have the flexibility to choose what form of proof they’ll accept, Falcicchio recommends people make sure they know what the establishment they plan on visiting allows.

Kathy Hollinger, president and CEO of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, believes most will not limit what is acceptable.

“I would imagine that restaurateurs want to have as many options as possible because they want to be able to bring diners into their restaurant,” Hollinger said.

Coleman agreed, saying his restaurants will allow all options, to make it easier on guests. Some businesses who have moved to app-based verification have done so to reduce the risk of someone not telling the truth about their vaccination status.

While among restaurant operators there are mixed feelings about the vaccination entry requirement, Coleman said most agree that if checking vaccination status prevents the return of COVID capacity restrictions, it is worth doing.

“This is better than rolling back capacity, this is better than us not being able to sit people at the bar,” Coleman said.

More than 200 restaurants around the region are participating in restaurant week this year, with special pricing and menus available on the program’s website.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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