Two weeks after the first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus arrived in Philadelphia, Mayor Jim Kenney and Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole announced that starting in the New Year, proof of vaccination will be required to enter any establishment in Philly where food or drinks are served. That includes bars, restaurants, sports venues, casinos, movie theaters, and anywhere else where food or drinks are available for on-site dining.
The vaccination mandate will begin on Monday, January 3, but with less strict requirements to start. For the beginning two weeks of the mandate, food businesses may accept a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours from those who are not fully vaccinated. On January 17, that exception will end and diners will no longer be allowed enter a restaurant or bar with just a negative COVID-19 test. Starting January 17, only proof of full vaccination will be allowed.
In August, following an increase of cases related to the delta variant, the city instituted an indoor mask mandate again, but stopped short of requiring proof of vaccination at bars and restaurants in the city. Many businesses took matters into their own hands, requiring guests show proof of vaccination at the door. With the new restrictions starting in January, attendees to sports games and concerts at the Wells Fargo Center will also have to provide proof of vaccination to enter, as the stadium serves food indoors.
The new mandate does not apply to grocery stores, convenience stores, or businesses that “primarily sell food and drink for offsite use,” and at the airport, proof of vaccination will only be required at traditional sit-down bar and restaurants. The mandate also does not apply to those with valid religious or medical exemptions and for children under five years and three months.
As of Friday, 76 percent of adults are fully vaccinated in Philly, and 70 percent of kids aged 12 and up are fully vaccinated. Find a place to get vaccinated in Philly here.