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Downtown restaurants brace for vaccine enforcement, many grateful to remain open

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 1 day ago Sam Ford
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Members of the Coleman family have owned the Dubliner Bar and Restaurant near Union Station for nearly half a century, 48 years. They were among owners of establishments around the city gearing up Friday to require patrons to prove they’ve been vaccinated against COVID as a requirement to enter their businesses.

“We’ll have signs up front stating what we have to do: staff checking vaccine cards at the door, making sure people are wearing masks,” said Danny Coleman, one of two Dannys the other one, the younger’s uncle, is one of the founders of the restaurant.

RELATED: Can't find your COVID-19 vaccination card? Here's what you should do

The mandate that kicks in Saturday requires anyone 12 and over to present proof of vaccination. Anyone 18 and over must also present photo identification with that proof.

At a news conference Friday focused on vaccine passports and Winter Restaurant Week, Deputy Mayor John Falccichio gave a list of ways the identification can be presented: a driver’s license and vaccination card, photographs of them or even one of the phone apps like Clear and Vaxyes.

READ MORE: DC's vaccine mandate begins Saturday: What you'll need to be prepared

The Washington Restaurant Association that represents DMV area restaurants said business this time of year is particularly slow anyway and COVID has made it worse. They hoping Restaurant Week and the passport campaign will mean more diners willing to come back. And while some restaurants, particularly in Virginia, don’t support a passport mandate, the Association President Kathy Hollingsworth said, “We were incredibly fragile as an industry and the last thing we wanted to do was to take steps backwards and close down again."

The news conference took place in the newly opened Dauphine’s Restaurant downtown, which the Coleman family also owns.

Gavin Coleman, representing his family there, said if restaurants don’t want to accept the passport mandate, the city could go back to worse measures.

“This is better than not being able to set people at the bar, and I have to explain why it is not as acceptable as sitting at a table is,” he said.

Back at the Dubliner, his father, Danny Coleman, echoed those remarks.

“Lot of people are complaining, but if it’s going to keep us open. We had tough time last year,” said Danny Coleman.

While the new mandate applies to bars, restaurants, theatres and gyms, it does not apply to retail stores, grocery stores or churches and other houses of worship.

For the best information on what is and is not affected, go to the DC Government’s website.

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