Now in effect: What you need to know about Philly's vaccine indoor dining requirement

People with proof of valid religious or medical exemptions and children under 5 years old are exempt from the mandate.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A new year means new rules for restaurants in Philadelphia.

Those looking to dine indoors will now need to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The mandate went into effect on Monday.

According to the city, employees and children aged 5 years and 3 months through 11 are required to have one dose of their COVID vaccine by January 3 and to complete their vaccine series by February 3.

For the first two weeks, businesses that sell food or drink may choose to accept proof of a negative COVID-19 test within 24 hours of entry for those not fully vaccinated.

Once the grace period ends, everyone will need to be fully vaccinated on January 17, 2022, to dine indoors.

"Give it a few weeks, everyone is going to get used to it," said restaurant owner Nicole Marquis.

RELATED: Philadelphia's new COVID-19 vaccination requirement for indoor dining begins Monday

Marquis owns several Center City restaurants including Bar Bombon, one of the several restaurateurs who implemented the mandate ahead of the city's deadline.

She's also worked to get her 200 plus employees vaccinated.

"There are some employees who are still hesitant. We've had really amazing stories actually of the staff coming together to support one another through this," said Marquis.

Pictures of vaccine cards along with ID will also be accepted.

"I've been fielding questions from operators for the last two weeks and my phone has been off the hook all day today," said Benjamin Fileccia, director of operations and strategy for the Pennsylvania Restaurant & Lodging Association.

But like with most news things, there is a learning curve some establishments will need to work through. Industry experts are working to help navigate these uncharted waters

"There's questions about mask-wearing. There are places that are grab-and-go with some sit-down dining like a Starbucks or a Chipotle. Perhaps they don't know whether or not they have to check everybody's vaccination or if it's just the people coming in to sit," said Fileccia.

And while the city is offering guidance, they are asking for patience while it all gets sorted out.

Some restaurants are closing for good, like The Grill at Smuckers inside the Reading Terminal Market.

The owner, Moses Smucker, says the city's vaccine mandate is the main reason behind his decision.

He says a lot of his employees come from Lancaster County, and many of them don't want to deal with the stricter rules.

Smuckers has served up sandwiches in the Center City for the last 12 years.

People with proof of valid religious or medical exemptions and children under 5 years old are exempt from the mandate.

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