By Aysia Morton
Special to the AFRO
On Jan. 11, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Deputy Mayor’s Office for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) held a Town Hall to announce the details of the vaccination mandate for Washington, D.C. The speakers included the Deputy Mayor for Planning & Economic Development John Falcicchio; Senior Deputy Director at D.C. Health Patrick Ashley; Director of the Mayor’s Office of Nightlife & Culture Solana Vander Nat; and Glendon Hartley, co-owner of Service Bar on U Street.
The mandate went into effect Jan. 15 at 6:00 a.m., and it states District of Columbia patrons, 12 years old and older, must have had at least one dose of covid vaccine with proof of vaccination. By Tuesday, Feb. 15, those 12 and older must be fully vaccinated. Those 18 years or older must have proof of immunization and a photo I.D. that matches the information on their vaccination card.
The city’s acceptable forms of photo identification include:
- State-issued driver’s license or limited license
- Student I.D.
- DC One Card
- Permanent resident card
- Any other state-issued I.D.
The mandate will be enforced by restaurants, cafes, bars, nightclubs, breweries and wineries, museums, movie theaters, sporting venues, hotel meeting rooms, gyms, fitness studios and more. People can find the complete listing of all mandated establishments at www.vaxdc.dc.gov.
“We will continue to post updates at that website specifically about how the guidance is implemented and any changes to that guidance,” said Ashley.
Specific locations are considered exempt from the vaccination mandate. These locations include grocery stores, retail establishments, houses of worship, private meeting spaces, private office buildings or residential buildings, homeless shelters and other human services, healthcare facilities and pharmacies, law enforcement buildings and government offices such as the DMV and more.
The City is home to many shared spaces—personal gatherings are held in churches, libraries host community events, etc. Suppose an activity falls in the scope of the vaccine mandate, but is being held in an exempt location? In that case, the City will still enforce the vaccination mandate, according to Ashley.
Individuals who are medically exempt or unable to take the vaccine out of seriously held religious beliefs must provide documentation of their exemption and a negative PCR or Antigen test. The test must have been taken within the last 24 hours and have results given in the same amount of time.
Patrons must prove their vaccination, and to do that, individuals can provide a:
- CDC issued vaccination cards (an original copy, photocopy, or digital copy.)
- Records of your immunization from a healthcare provider or public health authority.
- A Covid-19 verification app like MyIR, VaxYes and Excelsior.
- World Health Organization Vaccination Record
Establishments may vary in terms of the types of proof they accept.
Employees must check the vaccination status of each patron upon every entry unless vaccination statuses are uploaded to a verified membership. Establishments must also validate proof of vaccination at the point of entry or the first point of contact with patrons.
Currently, the vaccine mandate only applies to patrons of an establishment and not employees. The requirement states that each establishment has signs displaying its vaccine mandate.
“When they see a business that hasn’t implemented the vaccine requirement or any signage that is required to, what they can do is call 311,” said Falcicchio.
Employees are not subject to the vaccine requirement. Still, Service Bar DC felt it was important that their business have a vaccine mandate for employees and patrons. Hartley required that all of their staff was vaccinated and safe. About 75 percent of his staff got vaccinated in the first month the vaccine was available. Now they require any unvaccinated employees to get the vaccine within 30 days of employment.
“The more our staff is safe, the more our customers are safe,” said Hartley.
To watch the video of the DMPED town hall meeting or listen to a recording, visit their website.
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