The City of Philadelphia is requiring people to provide proof of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine to dine in any indoor establishment – including restaurants, bars, movie theaters and sports venues – beginning Jan. 3, 2022, Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole said in the city’s COVID-19 briefing Monday morning.
The mandate will not affect schools, daycares, hospitals, grocery stores, convenience stores and soup kitchens, Bettigole said.
The announcement comes as Philadelphia’s COVID-19 cases doubled and hospitalizations increased by more than 50 percent within the past few weeks, due mostly to an increase in indoor gatherings amid the colder weather and holiday season, Bettigole said.
“Now with the evermore transmissible omicron variant on the horizon, this winter looks like it could be very difficult,” Bettigole said. “We have to do something to slow the spread now before it’s too late.”
Between Jan. 3, 2022, and Jan. 17, 2022, indoor establishments can choose to accept proof of a negative COVID-19 test from the past 24 hours instead of proof of vaccination, Bettigole said. After Jan. 17, 2022, only proof of vaccination will be accepted.
Staff and children ages five to 11 must have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by Jan. 3, and complete their vaccine series by Feb. 3, 2022, Bettigole said. Staff must be tested weekly until they are fully vaccinated.
Children younger than five – who are not eligible to receive a vaccine – and individuals with medical and religious exemptions will still be permitted to eat indoors when the mandate goes into effect, Bettigole added. These individuals will be required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test from the past 24 hours before entering an establishment that can seat more than 1,000.
People can call 311 to report an establishment not following the mandate, Bettigole said.
Prior to the mandate, the city required customers and staff to wear masks indoors, except when eating or drinking, according to a city press release.
Thirty percent of restaurants in the city already require vaccination, 6ABC reported. Other cities like New York and San Francisco have required proof of vaccination for entry at restaurants since August.
As of Dec. 13, more than 1,031,000 Philadelphians are fully vaccinated, according to the city’s vaccine dashboard.
Philadelphia reported its first COVID-19 case of the omicron variant on Dec. 3, according to a city press release.
As of Dec. 12, there were 109 new COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s case dashboard.