Many indoor venues across DC—from restaurants to gyms to theaters—will require patrons 12 and older to show they’ve received at least one Covid vaccine shot beginning Jan. 15. Documentation for full vaccination will be required by Feb. 15. But a handful of businesses are going one step beyond the official regulations by requiring customers to also show proof of booster shots.
“We’ve always just looked at the data that’s out there, and it just seemed like the first round of shots wasn’t being as effective toward these new variants. We’re in [the] space, and it’s the safest environment for our staff and our guests if everyone is as protected as possible if we want to continue operating,” says Oyster Oyster chef/co-owner Rob Rubba. His veg-centric Shaw restaurant was already checking vaccination records, but will start asking diners for booster documentation when it returns from a winter break on Jan. 11. The staff has already received boosters, which Rubba notes was more the result of like-minded individuals than a demand.
Rubba says the requirement is a bit easier for a reservation-only restaurant like Oyster Oyster, which is already in touch with diners in advance about dietary restrictions and other expectations. “There’s already have a pretty good dialogue, so we’re not catching anyone off guard when they come to the restaurant,” he says. The restaurant has also cut back its capacity to less than 30 seats at any given time to allow for more social distancing.
The list of places with similar policies is still fairly small: Sweet Science Coffee in NoMa is already asking guests seated indoors to show they’re fully vaccinated and boosted, or fully vaccinated with a negative Covid test from within 24 hours. Meanwhile, Vida Fitness will require boosters at their gyms and beauty/health services (Bang Salon, Aura Spa) beginning Jan. 31.
Booster mandates could become more widespread across DC in the weeks and months to come. Already, Mayor Muriel Bowers has said that the city will soon require all government employees, contractors, grantees, and interns to have booster shots with no test-out option.
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