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Some D.C. Restaurants and Bars Refuse to Stop Asking for Customers’ Vax Status

Despite D.C.’s shocking reversal of its vax mandate, dozens of establishments plan to still enforce it

Vaccine Proof
Some restaurants will continue to require proof of Covid-19 vaccine.
Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

D.C. diners no longer need to provide proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status in order to enter restaurants and bars, but a growing list of establishments are opting to keep the newly nixed safety measure in place.

For the past month, customers were required to flash proof of at least one vax shot at the door. Mayor Muriel Bowser suddenly dropped the vax mandate this week, citing improving COVID-19 metrics in D.C. The reversal, effective Tuesday, February 15, came on the same day proof of full vax status was set to go live.

But D.C. businesses can still require proof of vax at their own discretion, and a growing crop of bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues plan to keep a vaccination requirement in place — at least for now. DCist confirms at least 25 venues that still require proof of vax.

The growing list includes wine bars (Flight, St. Vincent); dives (The Pug, All Souls, Showtime) and pint-sized cocktail bars (Jane Jane, Service Bar). Well over two-thirds (69.1 percent) of D.C. residents are currently vaccinated, per DC Health.

The group’s refusal to drop the month-old mandate echos the sentiment of some D.C. government officials who strongly disagree with the mayor’s decision. Just 24 hours after Bowser made the surprise call to lift the mandate, councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1) drafted a bill to reinstate it. An emergency bill requires nine of 13 councilmembers’ support.

Meanwhile, the next scheduled legislative council session isn’t until March 1. Nadeau tweeted a plan to speed up the process yesterday afternoon: “I plan on asking @ChmnMendelson to call a special session of the Council this week so we don’t have to wait two weeks to act.” She could also sign on enough colleagues to force one to happen.

The latest indoor mask mandate, reinstated right before Christmas, will also be lifted at certain establishments starting March 1. Masks will no longer be required in restaurants and bars, sports and entertainment venues, gyms, houses of worship, grocery stores, and others. Businesses can still require masks at their own discretion, however.

H Street NE dive The Pug’s handwritten pledge to still require proof-of-vax at the door got a Fox News reporter pretty riled up on Wednesday:

Fellow H Street dive/music venue Pie Shop also plans to keep requiring vax proof or negative COVID-19 test but displayed frustration towards both the D.C. council and mayor’s office.