WASHINGTON — Before dining in at one of your favorite restaurants, be prepared to bring more than just your wallet.
Starting this week, a handful of spots will now require proof of the COVID-19 vaccine before dining indoors. As the contagious omicron variant continues to spread, many local businesses are once again forced to pivot to keep their doors open.
In D.C., businesses will be required to check vaccination cards beginning Saturday, Jan. 15. The mandate will impact most restaurants, bars and gyms across D.C. as COVID-19 cases continue to climb.
"The places that will require them will be restaurants, indoor cultural facilities, indoor exercise establishments and event and meeting establishments," Mayor Bowser said at a December news conference.
Starting Jan. 15 at 6 a.m., certain D.C. establishments must make sure their patrons who are 12 and older have at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. Come Feb. 15, all patrons will need to have two doses.
Those who have religious convictions or medical conditions which prevent them from getting vaccinated are exempt and can instead provide a negative COVID-19 test taken within the past 24 hours. They are free to self-attest that this is the case. Mayor Bowser stated this in a Jan. 6 press conference.
"We know very well that it’s not 2020 because of the vaccine. We have a safe and effective vaccine available, Bowser said, adding that the city locked down in 2020 because vaccines weren't available.
Grocery stores, churches and museums so far are exempt from the new mandate.
It is a trend happening at many businesses across the DMV.
At the Stomping Ground in Del Ray, Alexandria, everyone 12 years and older will be required to show a vaccination card.
Rustico in Alexandria, which is part of the Neighborhood Restaurant Group which manages nearly 20 restaurants, is now also requiring proof of vaccination for all indoor dining.
"Proof of vaccination will be required for all indoor dining at Rustico. Additionally, masks are suggested for all guests dining indoors unless actively eating or drinking. Our team members are vaccinated and required to wear masks at all times. We appreciate your support, patronage, and patience as we navigate our way through these difficult days," the restaurant shared in a message online.
While vaccine cards have become a part of most people's everyday lives, what can you do if you forget a card at home or just don't want to carry a medical document with you? There are a few different options when it comes to providing proof of vaccine status.
What counts as proof of vaccine?
Your trusty vaccine card is the first acceptable type of proof of vaccination that businesses will take in D.C.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests people take a photo of their COVID-19 vaccine cards after receiving one to keep as a backup copy.
Immunization Record Print Out
The second acceptable type of proof of vaccination is a printout of a patient's immunization record from the patient portal of their vaccine/healthcare provider.
In D.C. people can sign up for DC MyIR, a web-based portal that provides residents a secure and easy way to access their official COVID-19 vaccination records.
According to D.C. Health, DC MyIR, which stands for "My Immunization Record," was created to help people avoid the time-consuming process of trying to get immunization records from healthcare providers.
Parents can also create a dashboard to have easy access to their vaccine records as well as add their children's records to one easy place.
Digital Vaccine Passport
The third acceptable form of proof of vaccination status is using a digital vaccine passport through a verification app, such as VaxYes or CLEAR.