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Philadelphia Implementing COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement For Food, Drink Establishments Beginning Jan. 3, 2022

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – COVID-19 vaccination proof will be required to dine at Philadelphia bars and restaurants beginning in 2022, Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole announced Monday morning. The vaccination mandate will go into effect beginning Jan. 3, 2022 in order to give establishments that serve food and beverages a chance to get ready. 

"New cases and hospitalizations are rising in Philadelphia and nationally, and with winter we must do more to protect our residents," Mayor Jim Kenney said.

All establishments that serve food and drinks for customers to sit and enjoy will have to require proof of vaccination for entry.

"We just don't want to go back to where we were a year ago and it's really not that much of a burden to ask people to be vaccinated, which I don't understand why anyone wouldn't get vaccinated," Kenney said.

City officials say they have to take this action because of an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases, which have doubled in the past few weeks along with hospitalizations.

"Now with the even more transmissible omicron on the horizon, this winter looks like it could be very difficult," Dr. Bettigole said.

The mandate applies to indoor restaurants, bars, sports venues, cafes, casinos, movie theaters, and anywhere else that serves food or beverages where customers can sit down to enjoy them.

"This announcement will help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 when people are enjoying our city's restaurants and other establishments that serve food," Bettigole said. "We have to do something to slow the spread now before it's too late."

The mandate will be implemented in phases.

From Jan. 3 to 17, restaurants and bars may choose to accept proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry. The test must be from the last 24 hours before entering the establishment.

After the 17th, negative tests will no longer be accepted and all customers must be fully vaccinated in order to enter. This means they must have either a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine or two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.

The establishment's staff must have one dose by Jan. 3 and must complete their vaccination process by Feb. 4. Staff members must provide a negative COVID test within 24 hours until they are fully vaccinated.

The health commissioner says the post-holiday surge is linked mainly to home gatherings and more people being inside, not necessarily restaurants.

"We're just trying to get as many people vaccinated as possible and the mandate will get a certain number of unvaccinated vaccinated and will make things better for everyone," Kenney said.

Wondering what this means for sports fans?

Anyone going to the Wells Fargo Center will have to show proof of vaccination because it's all inside and people eat and drink throughout the building.

It's a little more complicated at Lincoln Financial Field for Eagles games. Vaccine proof will only be required where people eat inside, not outside in the stands.

For children under 5 and people with medical or religious exemptions, they'd have to show proof of a negative test for locations that hold more than 1,000 people.

Schools, day cares, hospitals, grocery stores and soup kitchens are exempt from the mandate. Children under 5 and people with medical and religious exemptions will be allowed to dine indoors, but must still show proof of a negative test if they're going into a location that holds more than 1,000 people.

Stay with for continuing coverage. 

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