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Starting January 15, residents of Washington DC aged 12 and above will be required to show a vaccine passport to enter many businesses including restaurants, Mayor Muriel Bowser said on Wednesday.
On Monday, the mayor announced new restrictions focused on curbing the spike of cases that have made DC’s new daily rates higher than anywhere else in the country. The mayor initially responded to the spike in cases by reintroducing the indoor mask mandate, a vaccine mandate for government employees, and at-home rapid antigen tests.
Now, Mayor Bowser announced a vaccine passport mandate that will be enforced by thousands of businesses. The move saw DC join a growing list of cities implementing strict restrictions for the unvaccinated, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston.
The mandate will cover businesses like gyms, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and theaters, Bowser said. It will not apply to grocery stores, retail shops, museums, and pharmacies, as well as religious congregations.
The mayor said that she was considering exempting some fast-food joints.
Bowser hopes that the mandate will force residents of DC to get vaccinated before they can no longer visit their favorite food and entertainment venues.
“I don’t make any of these types of decisions lightly, because I don’t like Big Brother intruding on my life. [There are] times when the government needs to make decisions for the whole society,” she said. “Mandates have the ability to help people who are not vaccinated to become vaccinated, and that is a huge public health benefit.”
From January 15, residents will only be required to show proof of one shot of the vaccine. But starting February 15, they will be required to show proof of two shots of the vaccine.
The mandate also only applies to customers, not employees.