DC issues a vaccination mandate for certain indoor establishments


As of January 15, 2022, DC require the following establishments to verify that their guests, visitors and consumers aged 12 and over have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Restaurants, bars and nightclubs (including restaurants and taverns, cafes and fast food establishments that have seating if customers choose to sit down; breweries, wineries and distillery tasting rooms; mixed use facilities; food courts);
  • Indoor entertainment facilities (including nightclubs, shisha bars, billiards and billiards halls, and cigar bars; concert halls, live entertainment and gyms; cinemas; entertainment venues for adults; bowling alleys);
  • Indoor exercise and recreation facilities (including exercise facilities, dance, yoga and Pilates studios; all facilities used for group fitness classes);
  • Indoor events and meeting facilities (including hotel common rooms, banquet halls, conference center meeting rooms, convention centers, auditoriums; shared work facilities); and
  • Any other covered facility designated by the director of the DC Department of Health.

As of January 15, 2022, covered establishments are also required to “display prominently, visible to customers prior to entry, a notice advising customers that proof of vaccination is required to enter any interior part of the building. ‘a covered place’. Covered facilities will need to start verifying participants’ full proof of vaccination from February 15, 2022. Acceptable forms of proof include: (i) CDC vaccination card (original, photocopy or digital copy / photo); (ii) an immunization record from a health care provider or public health authority; (iii) a COVID-19 verification application (for example, VaxYes, Clear, Excelsior, MyIR); or (iv) a vaccination record from the World Health Organization. According to DC Health Tips and FAQs, companies will also need to verify vaccination with photo ID for customers aged 18 and over, such as: (i) a state-issued driver’s license or limited-use driver’s license; (ii) any other identity card issued by the State; (iii) passport; (iv) a DC One card; (v) student card; or (vi) permanent resident card.

The requirement of proof of vaccination does not apply to persons entering a covered establishment “for a quick and limited purpose” (for example, place an order for take out, pick up an order or make a delivery), or anyone entitled by law to reasonable accommodation because of a health problem or sincere religious belief. According to DC Health Tips and FAQs, customers who have and show documents of medical or religious exemptions (that is to say, a note from a medical provider or an attestation from the client that they have a sincere religious belief) of the COVID-19 vaccine must provide proof of a negative PCR test or antigen test during the last 24 hours to be able to enter.

In particular, the decree also exempts the following establishments from the entry requirement for vaccines:

  • places of worship ;
  • Grocery stores, farmers’ markets and catering establishments offering charitable food services;
  • Pharmacies, doctor’s offices, emergency care centers or hospitals;
  • Big box stores and retail establishments “where people tend to be on the move and not stand or sit near others for long periods of time; “
  • Private meeting spaces in residences or office buildings;
  • Certain government and social service facilities (including polling stations during elections); and
  • Other facilities exempted by the Ministry of Health.

However, if an exempt facility carries out a non-exempt activity (for example, if a place of worship is rented for non-religious purposes or if a retail bookstore has a seated event where people will be closely gathered for an extended period), the vaccine requirement will apply.

According to DC Health, relevant district agencies, such as DC Health, the DC Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration, and the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs “will deploy staff for spot checks to ensure that businesses and organizations have put in place appropriate processes to comply with these requirements. “In the absence of good faith efforts to comply, businesses and organizations may be subject to appropriate enforcement action, including civil fines not exceeding $ 1,000 and / or summary suspension or revocation of the business license (s). “

Additional information regarding the mandate, including sample notices, is available here. We will continue to monitor and report on further developments in DC.


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