Food  |  News & Politics

DC Will Allow Medical and Religious Exemptions to Vaccine Mandate for Indoor Venues

Those with exemptions must show a negative Covid test from the past 24 hours.

Washington, Dc, USA - December, 23,2020: Close up view of blurred COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card by CDC in hand.

DC’s vaccine mandate for indoor venues—ranging from restaurants to gyms to theaters—goes into effect on January 15. Patrons 12 and older will only have to show proof of one Covid vaccine shot to start. Beginning February 15, Pfizer and Moderna recipients must provide full documentation of two shots. There will, however, be exemptions for those with medical issues or “sincerely held religious belief,” according to the latest DC guidance. In both cases, a negative PCR or antigen test from with 24 hours will be needed to enter vaccine-required establishments.

In the case of medical exemptions, guests must show documentation, such as a note from a medical provider. But when it comes to religious exemptions? The customer’s word will suffice.

“I don’t know exactly what they’re going to show other than attestation from themselves that they have a religious objection,” Mayor Muriel Bowser said in a press conference today.

Asked if there was concern about people taking advantage of the system, Bowser acknowledged that it will never be completely fool-proof.

“Will there be some people who don’t cooperate? I’m sure there will be. Will there be people who try to cheat? Probably. There is in every system,” she said. “But we know that if we get the majority of people participating—not just in showing their ID, but actually getting vaccinated so they can show their ID and show their vaccine card—then we will be better off as a community.”

Read more about the forthcoming vaccine mandate here.


Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.