Philadelphia Drops COVID-19 Vaccine Passport for Restaurants

Philadelphia Drops COVID-19 Vaccine Passport for Restaurants
A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card in Washington on Nov. 13, 2020. (EJ Hersom/DoD)
Jack Phillips

The city of Philadelphia has lifted its COVID-19 vaccine passport mandate because of a drop in cases, according to the city's health commissioner.

"As of today, we no longer need our city's dining establishments to check vaccines," Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Cheryl Bettigole announced on Feb. 16. The mandate went into effect in January, requiring proof of vaccination for indoor dining.

Officials said a tiered system would be used to potentially implement future COVID-19 mandates in case new virus variants emerge, meaning that the city isn't permanently ending the vaccine passport system. If cases spike in the future, authorities could reimplement it, according to local media reports.

Masks will still be required indoors, Bettigole said on Feb. 16. Mask mandates were lifted across Pennsylvania several weeks ago.

Some business owners said the vaccine passport mandate harmed their ability to make money.

“We turned away several hundred dollars in business,” The Goat’s Beard owner Brendan McGrew told CBS3. “Last night for Valentine’s Day, we had six groups of people that we turned away because they came in and couldn’t show us a vax card."

Washington, D.C., lifted its vaccine passport system for restaurants, concerts, and gyms last week. New York state also lifted its mask-or-vaccine mandate for indoor businesses earlier in February.

"Since the height of the omicron wave in D.C., COVID-19 cases have dropped by more than 90 percent and there's been a 95 percent reduction in hospitalizations," Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser wrote on Twitter.

However, during her announcement on Feb. 14, Bowser left the door open for city officials to reimplement the passport system.

“What we know is that we have to be nimble, if something should change, like it changed in December, with a new, very contagious variant,” she said. “I don’t think any of us can say here that there won’t be other variants that would require us to do something different. So just like when omicron presented itself, we adjusted our approach.”

Several other cities, including New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston still have a vaccine passport system in place.

Republican lawmakers criticized the vaccine passport rule when it was enforced in Washington. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) said that “you need a photo ID to buy milk, but not to vote," while Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) criticized “Big Brother Dem” (Democrats) for “segregating the unvaxxed.”
COVID-19 is the illness caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.
Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X:
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