You are here

DC Vaccination Requirement Breakdown

December 29, 2021

DC Vaccination Requirement Breakdown

Saturday, January 15, 2022
Proof of the first dose of vaccination will be required for all patrons 12+ dining indoors at restaurants, bars, and nightclubs starting Saturday, January 15, 2022. The requirement also applies to indoor cultural and entertainment events, indoor exercise and recreational establishments, and indoor event and meeting establishments. 
Beginning on January 15, 2022, businesses shall display prominently, visible to patrons prior to entry, a notice informing patrons that proof of vaccination is required to enter any indoor portion of a covered location. Sample advisory notices are available for download in PDF format.
February 15, 2022
Starting on February 15, 2022, all patrons 12+ must be fully vaccinated to dine indoors.
Leading up to January 15, you should prominently display a sign notifying the public of the vaccination entry requirement and you may want to post the information for diners on your website and reservation platforms.
Specifically this mandate applies to patrons of indoor premises including: 
  • Restaurants, bars, taverns, coffee shops and fast food establishments that
    have seating if guests choose to sit down. 
  • Breweries, wineries and distillery tasting rooms
  • Nightclubs, hookah bars, pool and billiard halls, cigar bars, concert,
    live entertainment and sporting venues
  • Hotel common rooms, banquet halls, conference centers, convention centers
PLEASE NOTE: Proof of vaccination is not required for outdoor dining. Also, individuals are exempt from this requirement if they are entering one of the above covered establishments for a quick or limited purpose, such as placing an order for takeout, picking up an order or making a delivery. 
Establishments are responsible for verifying the vaccination status and the acceptable forms of proof include: 
  • CDC issued vaccination card: original, photocopy or photo
  • Immunization record print out from their patient portal of their vaccine/healthcare provider
  • A COVID-19 verification app such as Vaxyes or Clear

Q&A with DMPED on DC Indoor Vaccination Requirement 

Are vaccines required for outdoor dining? 
No, there is not a vaccination requirement for outdoor dining. 

Are businesses responsible for cross checking proof of vaccination with a picture ID?
Yes, businesses are required to cross check the vaccination card with a valid picture ID. 

Is there an option for patrons to show proof of a negative test instead of proof of vaccination?
No. The patron must provide proof of vaccination. A negative test will not suffice. 

Where does the vaccination check have to occur?

  • "Businesses must check proof of vaccination at the entry point or at the first point of contact between the customer and a staff member. The safest place to execute the vaccination requirement is at the point of entry and, where possible, before the customer enters." 

  • If your establishment does not have a host stand or vaccination status cannot be verified upon entry, the "first point of contact between the customer and a staff member" will suffice.  

Does a business have to use that specific sign provided by DC or can they design one as long as it contains the correct information?
Businesses are able to use their own sign as long as it is consistent with the provided DC signage,
which can be found here

What are the requirements for hotels?
The indoor requirement applies to event and meeting spaces, as well as the restaurant.

How should religious and medical exemptions be handled?
  1. Medical and religious exemptions are now accepted with proof of a negative test. Initially, the Mayor’s Office said that religious exemptions would not be granted but that has since changed. The latest guidance provides:

    a. Patrons who have and show documentation of medical or religious exemptions from the COVID-19 vaccine must provide a negative PCR or antigen test within the last 24 hours.
    b. Documentation of medical or religious exemption, such as a note from a medical provider. We are seeking additional guidance from the Mayor’s office on the documentation requirement for religious exemptions and we will update you when we know more from the City.

Are vaccines approved by the WHO but not the FDA recognized,
notably the AstraZeneca vaccine?
Any of the WHO approved vaccines will be recognized. The CDC also recognizes AstraZeneca as acceptable for entry to the US and it is the most commonly used vaccine in the world. Please note that the International vaccine cards may look different, and you should verify as best you can. 

For live performance venues, will artists/performers be required to be vaccinated, or only guests? 
This is a vaccine requirement for patrons, not an employer mandate. Artists would be considered staff/employees in terms of this requirement therefore do not have to provide proof of vaccination. 

How does the mandate apply to establishments that do not have indoor seating or apply to people that are simply just picking up to go orders? 
The vaccination requirement does not apply to those who are briefly picking something up, getting to-go orders, or using a restroom. 

Is the booster shot required to be considered fully vaccinated after February 15th?
At this time the CDC’s definition of fully vaccinated is 2 doses. 

How should unruly or difficult guests be handled? 
Treat it like the mask mandate. If there is an emerging issue, call for police assistance, if necessary. Signage at your establishment will also help alleviate any questions.

What is the city doing to educate residents and visitors regarding this NEW mandate so it's not left to frontline hospitality/retail professionals to do so and risk their safety in the workplace?
The city is undertaking a broad paid media effort (social media, television, billboards) to the public about the mandate. Last week, the Mayor established a new public emergency to procure some emergency authority to do just that. 

What should you do if you suspect a vaccination card is fake?
It is not the businesses job to prove that the proof of vaccination is real.