Soon You’ll Need Proof of Vaccination to Visit Philadelphia Restaurants

The mandate will go into effect at the start of the new year.

The dining room at LMNO, Stephen Starr's latest Philadelphia restaurant. | Photo by Jason Varney
The dining room at LMNO, Stephen Starr's latest Philadelphia restaurant. | Photo by Jason Varney

In the new year, anyone who would like to dine at Philadelphia restaurants will be required to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, the city announced Monday.

The new mandate will go into effect starting January 3, but the city will have loosened restrictions as the policy is rolled out. The announcement comes two weeks following the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant in Philadelphia.

“We’ve come an incredibly long way, but there is still work to be done to get Philadelphia through the pandemic,” Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted on Monday. “New cases and hospitalizations are rising, and we must do more to protect our residents.”

Both customers and employees must be fully vaccinated, but those with medical or religious exemptions, as well as children under 5 years old, are exempt from the mandate.

The city will allow diners to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within 24 hours for entry during the first two weeks of January, however, that policy will come to an end on January 17. Starting January 17, guests must be fully vaccinated to dine indoors at Philly restaurants.

In addition to restaurants and bars, movie theaters, stadiums, casinos, bowling alleys, and any other venues that serve food and drink on site are also required to comply with the mandate.

The move to require proof of vaccination pushes Philadelphia in line with cities like New York, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and San Francisco that implemented the requirement earlier this year.

“I’m all for it,” restaurateur Stephen Starr, who owns 15 restaurants in Philadelphia and several in New York, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “It’s the only way we’re going to have a chance of beating this pandemic. Business is booming in New York and people feel safe.”

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Náosha Gregg is an editorial assistant at Thrillist.