Metro Weekly

DC gay bars will require proof of coronavirus vaccination for entry

Mayoral order, taking effect Jan. 15, comes on heels of new mask mandate as the District tries to grapple with a rise in COVID cases.

dc, vaccine, vaccination, bars, gay, lgbtq
A mobile app providing proof of vaccination – Photo: Jeremy Bezanger, via Unsplash.

D.C.’s LGBTQ bars, as well as other bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and indoor gathering spaces will be required to ask for proof of vaccination for entry beginning on Jan. 15, 2022.

On Wednesday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that beginning on that date, establishments that open themselves up to the public, or so-called “cultural and entertainment establishments” will be required to verify that patrons 12 and older have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

The order will subsequently ratchet up a month later, requiring all patrons aged 12 and older to have provide proof that they have received at least two shots, making them “fully vaccinated,” by Feb. 15.

Bowser’s order does not require patrons to provide proof that they have been “boosted,” or received a subsequent third shot of a vaccine — which is being recommended by some medical providers to protect against emerging COVID variants.

Per the mayor’s order, proof of vaccination will be required in indoor establishments serving food and drink, including restaurants, nightclubs, taverns, coffee shops, and food halls; indoor “cultural and entertainment establishments” such as concert, live entertainment and sporting venues, movie theaters, and bowling alleys; indoor exercise and recreational establishments, including gyms, fitness studios, and recreation centers; and for indoor venues used for large-scale conferences.

Beginning on Jan. 15, those establishments will be required to display signage informing patrons that they must show proof of vaccination for entry. Downloadable and printable copies of the required signage will be available free of charge on the city’s COVID-19 website.

Bouncers, security, or other employees checking for proof of vaccination will only be allowed to accept a physical Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination card, a digital or photo copy of a CDC Vaccination Card, or a COVID-19 verification app such as VaxYes or CLEAR.

The new order comes on the heels of Bowser’s decision to reinstate a mask mandate requiring that masks be worn in indoor venues beginning on Tuesday, Dec. 21 until Jan. 31, when city health officials will evaluate whether to continue the mandate.

Both orders have been issued in response to an uptick in confirmed COVID cases — many caused by the much more contagious, but less lethal (for those who are vaccinated), omicron variant. According to the mayor’s office, the weekly case rate for COVID has risen to 866.8 cases per 100,000 people, a drastic increase from a month earlier, when the weekly case rate was 96 cases per 100,000 people, although hospitalization rates for those who test positive have decreased. 

By instituting both the mask mandate and the requirement to show proof of vaccination, Bowser avoids imposing capacity limits and service restrictions that were introduced last year at the beginning of the global pandemic, which business owners have claimed crippled not only their own businesses, but the larger economy, and even led to the closure of some less financially stable establishments. 

That said, many D.C. establishments, including several of the city’s LGBTQ bars, have already required patrons to show proof of vaccination for several months.

See also:

Utah billionaire severs ties with Mormon church, accuses it of “actively” harming LGBTQ rights

Senegal lawmakers want to double jail time for LGBTQ people and imprison equality advocates

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