Philadelphia health officials just announced a citywide vaccine mandate for indoor dining and more.

During a Monday morning press conference, the city's Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole announced that the city will be requiring all patrons at bars and restaurants to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. New York City issued a similar mandate earlier this year.

The announcement comes as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the city, leading to increased hospitalizations. In fact, the city is averaging about 500 cases per day — that is the highest daily number of cases that the city has reported since March 2021.

The Mandate Rolls Out January 3

The mandate will begin to roll out on January 3, the city says.

"Any place that sells food or drink to be consumed on-site will have to require that everyone who enters be fully vaccinated against COVID-19," Dr. Bettigole said on Monday.

For the first two weeks, January 3 to January 17, establishments may choose to accept proof of the negative COVID test in lieu of proof of vaccination. That COVID result must have been within 24 hours.

After January 17, however, negative COVID-19 tests will no longer be accepted.

"Then, after January 17, negative COVID-19 tests will no longer be accepted and everyone must have completed their primary COVID vaccination series," Dr. Bettigole says.

This Affects Anywhere Food or Drink Is Consumed

Officials said the mandate applies at places where people can eat together indoors, like indoor restaurants, bars, sports venues, movie theaters, catering halls, and cafes.

Yes, this means you'll need to be vaccinated to attend a 76ers or Flyers game, they say, because food and drink are consumed throughout the venue. The outdoor areas are not covered by this mandate, so fans will not be required to show proof of vaccination at Lincoln Financial Field for an Eagles game.

The mandate will not affect schools, daycares, stores, and other sites that "serve vulnerable populations," according to Philadelphia officials.

Previously the city required that patrons show proof of vaccine or wear a mask indoors, but the implementation was left up to those individual businesses.

This is a developing story. We'll have more details shortly. 

Answers to 25 common COVID-19 vaccine questions

Vaccinations for COVID-19 began being administered in the U.S. on Dec. 14, 2020. The quick rollout came a little more than a year after the virus was first identified in November 2019. The impressive speed with which vaccines were developed has also left a lot of people with a lot of questions. The questions range from the practical—how will I get vaccinated?—to the scientific—how do these vaccines even work?

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