Philadelphia plans to adopt vaccine mandate

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Philadelphia restaurants will be required from January 3 to refuse customers and employees who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or who have been found to be free of coronavirus in tests administered no more than 24 hours to the advance.

As of January 17, the threshold will be raised thanks to the elimination of the test option. As of that date, only fully vaccinated guests and staff – people who have received two injections of the Pfizer or Moderna formulas, or one of the Johnson & Johnson versions – will be permitted to enter a dining establishment.

The only exceptions will be children up to 11 years old. Those who are under 5 years and 3 months are totally exempt from the vaccine obligation. Young people from this age up to 11 years old must have at least one vaccination before January 17 and both before February 3.

Convenience stores, supermarkets and some institutional food operations are exempt.

The requirement, issued by civic and health leaders on Monday, is aimed at averting another winter surge in new COVID cases like the wave that filled hospitals and triggered restaurant closings last winter. Officials noted that Philadelphia already has one of the highest vaccination rates in the state.

The city becomes the latest jurisdiction to impose new protocols to slow the spread of the coronavirus, especially the delta and omicron variants. New York State adopted a mask or vax requirement for all interior spaces on Monday. Restaurants are now required to either require proof of vaccination from guests and restaurant staff or order them to wear masks when not eating and drinking.

The town hall’s announcement did not reveal what sanction will be imposed on companies that do not comply with security measures.

New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and New Orleans have had a vaccination mandate in place for several weeks. Outgoing New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that he was extending the mandate for immunizations in his city to include children between the ages of 2 and 5, as federal health officials agreed to these young people being vaccinated.

Big Apple restaurants complained that the new requirement would put a damper on vacation sales as families were already arriving in the city for a vacation visit. Operators expressed concerns that arriving families may not have had children vaccinated because they did not know the protocol would be needed.

The measures come as the national number of new COVID cases rises again. Health officials yesterday reported 119,300 Americans had just tested positive for the disease, a 43% jump from the average number over the previous 14 days. Deaths totaled just under 1,300, an increase of 32%.

Federal officials say the total number of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States is on track to reach 800,000, the highest number of any country.

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