DC restaurants, bars begin checking vaccination status Saturday

Just ahead of D.C.’s Restaurant Week, the city will require patrons to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 starting Saturday morning,

“No vaccine? There are certain establishments you won’t be able to visit,” said Patrick Ashley, senior deputy director at D.C. Health.

Starting Saturday at 6 a.m., anyone 12 and older looking to enter a slew of venues, including bars, restaurants, gyms and concert halls, must present proof of having received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine. On Feb. 15, that requirement will be upped to a full initial vaccine regiment, not including a booster.

District officials hosted a town hall this week to answer any questions from customers and businesses regarding the new measure. The inquiries came rolling in.

“The first question is, how do we expect this to change when the weather changes,” asked Lauren, a caller. The city says no matter the weather, all customers must flash their vaccine card or a photo of it, along with a government-issued ID like a driver’s license or passport.

Customers can also use vaccine apps on their smartphone as proof of vaccination status.

Another caller, Greg, asked if bars and restaurants must check customers who they know are already vaccinated.

“We would want you to check that every time,” Ashley said.

Some businesses have been ahead of the new requirement. Many entertainment venues, including the Kennedy Center, have asked for vaccination cards since last summer.

Glendon Hartley, co-owner of U Street’s Service Bar, has asked customers to flash their cards for the last three months. Service Bar patrons without the vaccine can still visit the eatery by enjoying their dinner and drinks on the restaurant’s outdoor patio.

“All of our guests feel safer,” Hartley said. “So does my staff. I find it helps provide more direct contact with our patrons.”

Ashley said proof of vaccination is not required at some establishments, including grocery stores, pharmacies and places of worship.

City leaders said their aim with the new rule is to get more people vaccinated.

“We want to spread the vaccine,” Ashley said. “We don’t want to spread the disease.”

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.

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