Montgomery Co. considering vaccine passport for restaurants, other venues

Montgomery County, Maryland, is considering a vaccine passport that would require people to provide proof of vaccination before entering bars, restaurants, coffee shops and fast-food outlets that provide seating.

Under the legislation, which was proposed by County Executive Marc Elrich’s administration, other businesses affected would include hookah bars, cigar bars, bowling alleys, museums and concert venues.

The proposal being considered is similar to the one adopted in D.C. People would also be barred from entering gyms, yoga and Pilates studios and places that offer group fitness classes unless they can prove they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus.

If adopted by the Montgomery County Council, which is sitting as the county’s Board of Health, the regulation would go into effect Jan. 21.

At first, the regulation would apply to anyone 12 or older, with a provision that starting Feb. 1, the same rules would extend to children 5 to 11 years old.

Proof of vaccination would not be required at houses of worship, grocery stores, farmers markets, pharmacies, big box stores, public or nonpublic schools, day care facilities or homeless shelters.

Documents that would be accepted to serve as proof of vaccination include: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 vaccination records, a digital photo of that CDC document, or a certificate from Maryland MyIR.

Under the proposed regulation, individuals 12 and older must provide proof of having received one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of the authorized two-dose vaccines effective Feb. 15; children 5 to 11 years old would have to provide proof of having received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by March 1.

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.

Montgomery County Assistant Chief Administrative Officer Earl Stoddard said in briefing Wednesday that the county is trying to come up with a more “nuanced” way to manage the coronavirus, despite record levels of infection.

Noting that the county is not shutting down businesses, Stoddard said there’s big difference between the way the virus was managed when it first became a pandemic and the way the county is trying to contain the spread now.

There’s a range, he said, between “managing it the way you did in 2020 and doing nothing at all.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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