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Penn's vaccination clinic at Gimbel Gymnasium on April 21, 2021.

Credit: Chase Sutton

Philadelphia is now requiring proof of vaccination to enter restaurants and other public spaces in an effort to limit the spread of COVID-19.

As of Jan. 17, all people seeking to dine inside public spaces are required to show proof of full vaccination against COVID-19 — meaning they have completed the series of a vaccine approved by the Food and Drug Administration or the World Health Organization, the City of Philadelphia's official website reported. As of now, a booster dose is not mandated.

The Dec. 13 announcement included a two-week grace period starting Jan. 3 where negative COVID-19 tests were accepted for entrance into public indoor dining areas in Philadelphia in lieu of proof of vaccination.

The new requirement applies to any Philadelphia establishment that sells food and drink for onsite consumption indoors — including movie theaters, bowling alleys, and sports venues. Outdoor dining is unaffected by the policy.

As proof of vaccination, patrons should present their issued Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination cards and a valid photo ID, PhillyVoice reported. Alternatively, a clear photo of the card or a scanned digital copy may be presented, along with ID.

Per the new regulations, employees and children ages five years and three months through 11 years are required to be fully vaccinated by Feb. 3. People with valid medical or religious exemptions are exempt from this mandate.

The requirement goes into effect as cases of the Omicron variant surge across the country. COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia mirrored national trends and spiked following the holiday season, according to data from the City of Philadelphia COVID-19 dashboard. During the week of Jan. 2, over 1,000 members of the Penn community tested positive after winter break.

Engineering sophomore Gwendolyn Duncan said that while she will not be dining indoors due to the current spike in cases, requiring vaccination is a positive measure that will incentivize people to get vaccinated and make public spaces safer. Duncan added that everyone may not be on board, however, and employees could face added stress in dealing with customers who object to the mandate.

Wharton and College sophomore Willow Wilkes said the new measures are reasonable in light of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases, and College first year Collin Wang added that the vaccination requirement is a “long-awaited policy move.” He said that he hopes the requirement will encourage the Penn community to recognize their role in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and take greater precautions.

Currently, 78.4% of Philadelphia’s adult population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It’s so important to protect the health of ourselves, fellow patrons, and the restaurant workers themselves, who have a right to safety inside and outside of their professional lives,” Wang said.