Philly’s indoor dining vaccine mandate is officially in effect

For the next two weeks, restaurants may accept a negative COVID-19 test from the past 24 hours in lieu of proof of full vaccination.

Outdoor dining at Parc on Rittenhouse Square

Outdoor dining at Parc on Rittenhouse Square. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

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Philadelphia’s indoor dining vaccine mandate officially takes effect Jan. 3.

Restaurants must require patrons to show proof they are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 if they want to dine indoors. Employees will also have to show that they are vaccinated.

For the next two weeks, restaurants may accept a negative COVID-19 test in lieu of proof of full vaccination if the test is from the past 24 hours.

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “fully vaccinated” against COVID-19 is still defined as having received either both shots of the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Restaurant employees have until Feb. 3 to be fully vaccinated. Under the vaccine mandate, eateries are required to test their workers weekly for the coronavirus until their staffs are fully vaccinated.

Exempted from the vaccine mandate are patrons under age 5 and those with proof of valid religious or medical exemptions. Those patrons will be required to show negative COVID-19 tests from the past 24 hours if entering an establishment whose capacity exceeds 1,000 people. (This does not apply to children under age 2, who can’t be easily tested for COVID-19.)

Mayor Jim Kenney and Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole said the new policy is a precaution amid a rising wave of COVID-19 infections that is now being fueled by the fast-moving omicron variant.

More Philadelphians are testing positive for COVID-19 than at any time during the pandemic, WHYY’s Billy Penn reports, though hospitalizations are less than half of what they were last winter.

More than three-quarters of Philly’s adult population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to city Health Department data. For residents over age 12, over 71% are fully vaccinated.

What’s covered under the mandate?

  • Restaurants with indoor dining rooms
  • Bars that serve indoors
  • Coffee shops with indoor seats or tables
  • Cafes or restaurants within larger spaces, such as museums or hotels
  • Food courts inside malls or other venues
  • Sports venues that serve food or drink for indoor consumption. This includes the Wells Fargo Center, but does not include Lincoln Financial Field
  • Movie theaters, bowling alleys, and other entertainment venues that serve food or drink for on-site consumption
  • Conventions (if food is being served)
  • Catering halls
  • Casinos where food and drink is allowed on the floor
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What’s excluded from the mandate?

  • K-12 schools
  • Day care facilities
  • Hospitals
  • Congregate care facilities and nursing homes
  • Soup kitchens and other special population providers that serve food
  • Residential or health care facilities
  • Grocery stores, convenience stores, or other places that primarily sell food and drink for off-site use
  • Philadelphia International Airport — except in traditional seated restaurant or seated bar areas

Philly COVID-19 resources

WHYY News’ Aaron Moselle contributed reporting.

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