Philadelphia city officials will require restaurants and entertainment venues that sell food to demand all who enter show proof of COVID-19 vaccination, though there are exemptions for religious or medical reasons.

“Starting Monday January 3, Philadelphia establishments that sell food or drink for consumption onsite will require that everyone who enters has completed their COVID vaccinations,” according to the city website. “Completing vaccinations means that they have received two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.”

The decree applies to patrons, employees and children over age of five years, three months. Employees and kids will be required to have at least one dose by Jan. 3 and to finish the vaccine series by Feb. 3.

The city is phasing in the mandate by allowing negative COVID-19 tests within the past 24 hours until Jan. 17, after which “everyone will need to be fully vaccinated.”

The new rules apply to many, but not all, places where groups gather to eat indoors in public, including restaurants, cafes, bars, sports venues, movie theaters, bowling alleys, convention and catering halls, casinos and food courts. It does not apply to K-12 lunchrooms, early child care facilities, hospitals, soup kitchens, congregate care facilities or residential or health care facilities.

It also does not apply to places that typically sell food or drinks for offsite consumption, such as grocery stores, convenience stores or stores in the Philadelphia International Airport.

“People with proof of valid religious or medical exemptions and children under five years and three months are exempt from the mandate,” according to the city website. Those with exemptions, however, still would need a negative COVID-19 test within the past 24 hours to enter establishments that seat more than 1,000.

City Health Commissioner Dr. Sheryl Bettigole blamed the mandate on rising COVID-19 case rates, a new omicron variant of the coronavirus and the alleged risk of transmission from visiting indoors unmasked when she announced the decision Monday during a virtual news conference.

“I don’t want to close our restaurants or the other types of businesses that sell food,” Bettigole said. “I want them to stay open and operate safely.

“Since we can’t make people wear masks when they’re eating, we need to increase the vaccination rate of people in those situations.”

Bettigole said the city is taking the lead from New York, New Orleans and San Francisco, which already have the same mandate in place.

“This announcement will help reduce the spread of COVID when people are enjoying the city’s restaurants and other establishments that sell food,” she said.

Bettigole encouraged folks to report establishments that do not comply.

“If you see an establishment not following the rules, you can call 311 and we’ll send out inspectors to educate them on the new mandate and to enforce, if necessary,” she said.

Bettigole pointed to the city’s unvaccinated residents as the reason behind the move, and she encouraged those who have resisted to reconsider.

“As the mayor said earlier, Philadelphia is doing a great job staying masked and getting vaccinated, but with hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians who are eligible for vaccines but did not get fully vaccinated, we need this additional safety measure to make us safer and avoid some of the worst outcomes we’ve seen in other states,” she said.

“If you haven’t gotten your vaccine yet, there’s still time to get fully vaccinated before this mandate goes into effect, and you can keep going out to eat and to enjoy yourself at covered entertainment venues safely.”