Heading to a Philadelphia restaurant? Make sure you have your vaccine card.

Starting Jan. 3, a new citywide mandate requires customers at indoor restaurants and bars, sports venues, movie theaters, and other locales to show proof of vaccination. For a short period of time — until Jan. 17 — the venues were also allowed to accept proof of a negative COVID-19 test from a lab within the previous 24 hours.

The mandate is the latest effort by local health officials to curb the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant, which now accounts for most new cases of the coronavirus in the United States. James Garrow, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, urged customers to be patient as businesses adjust to the new requirements.

» READ MORE: A full list of venues affected by Philly's new vaccine mandate

“This is a new process that the restaurants — while many are happy about it — aren’t doing on their own,” he said in an email. “They’re required to check for vaccine status by the Health Department. Yelling at and berating staff who are just doing their job won’t get you into a restaurant faster and won’t convince them to stop following the rules. In 2022, let’s all practice a bit of kindness and work to get past this pandemic together.”

Here’s what you’ll need to take to eat or drink indoors, watch a Sixers game at the Wells Fargo Center, see a movie, and more:

What is the vaccine requirement?

Customers need to be fully vaccinated, according to the definition from the CDC.

At the moment, that means two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna coronavirus vaccines, one dose from Johnson & Johnson, or a completed vaccine regimen from any vaccine that the World Health Organization has listed for emergency use.

The full list of those vaccines can be found on the CDC’s website.

Do I need a COVID-19 booster shot for indoor dining?

At the moment, no.

Garrow said there are no plans at this time to add booster vaccines to the mandate, but “if we’ve learned anything from this pandemic, it’s that things can change.”

“If we do make that change someday,” he said, “it will be communicated with enough time for folks to get their boosters so they can stay in compliance.”

Will restaurants accept a laminated copy of my vaccine card?


How Philly's vaccine mandate works

As of Jan. 3, Philadelphia's vaccine mandate in effect. Here's how it works:

  • You must show proof of vaccination at all indoor restaurants, bars, sports venues, movie theaters, and other places that serve food and drink in Philadelphia county.
  • By Feb. 3, all staff and children 5 to 11 must be fully vaccinated at places that fall under the mandate.
  • Children under 5 and people with religious or medical exemptions will be able to continue to show a negative COVID-19 test from the past 24 hours.



What if I have a photo of my vaccine card on my phone? Or a vaccine passport app from another state?

Those work, too.

What do I do if I lost my vaccine card?

You have a few options, and it largely depends on where you got vaccinated.

The CDC recommends contacting your vaccine provider to get a copy of your records. The next step is to contact your state’s immunization information system.

» READ MORE: How do I get a replacement vaccine card in Pennsylvania?

Staff writer Nick Vadala contributed to this article.