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Vaccine Passports: What Your Restaurant Needs to Know

Back Print

September 10, 2021

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

With the Delta variant of COVID-19 affecting communities, major cities are now passing laws to limit its spread. NYC became the first state to require proof of at least the first dose of vaccination for indoor areas. San Francisco and other establishments throughout California have taken it further by requiring full vaccination and negative tests in order to enter restaurants and other businesses. 

Many business owners are thinking about how to prepare for similar requirements as they watch to see how they play out in cities that have already begun these mandates. While this shift may not yet have happened in your area, having a plan to prepare your restaurant’s staff, operations, and space for this possible new reality can help your business smoothly and safely incorporate vaccination proof requirements without skipping a beat.


San Francisco enacted its law in late August, declaring that only fully-vaccinated guests could dine indoors and restaurants must check for proof of vaccination. Other municipalities have followed. While some restaurants had already voluntarily taken these steps, now everyone in affected areas must comply.

Here are tips from our foodservice industry experts about how to keep your restaurant compliant while also ensuring you don’t lose business in this new legal landscape.

Your staff should know what to accept as proof of vaccination.


Your staff will need to understand what to accept as proof of vaccination. Here are several common options you’ll see:

  • Physical CDC vaccination card: Some people carry their physical document, showing when and where they got vaccinated. You may also accept laminated or photocopied CDC vaccination cards.
  • Vaccination card photo on phones: Expect to see photos of vaccination cards on mobile devices. It’s up to you whether to accept this as valid proof, but many establishments do.
  • Digital vaccine passports: Customers may use a vaccination verification app, like CLEAR that uses biometrics for added safety. Some states, like California, have even designed their own digital records while others use pre-existing companies like MyIRMobile.

Whichever you accept for your restaurant, create a clear policy for your staff and guests to be aware, and stay consistent. Communicate with your staff to recognize the different vaccination proof options they will encounter.


Above all, you want customers to feel comfortable dining at your restaurant. Fortunately, you can continue the steps you took during reopening. Safety measures include:

  • Outdoor options: Offer as much comfortable, open-air dining space as possible for those who prefer it or as a separate dining area for those who are not fully vaccinated.
  • Indoor actions: Continue social distancing and masking servers. This protects both customers and staff, and may be required by law.
  • CDC compliance: Stay informed about CDC recommendations and follow them as best you can. Their guidance gives credence to your safety measures.
  • Update technology: Keep your restaurant’s operational systems up to date to simplify your processes. This limits in-person interactions, when the virus is most likely to spread.
  • Communicate often: Use your website, email, social media, and signage to inform customers about safety measures. They’ll feel more secure if they know what to expect when they arrive.


We understand that running a restaurant is a tough business, and we’re here to help.

As your local restaurant supply wholesaler for over 65 years, CHEF’STORE delivers the exceptional products your business needs to thrive in these changing times. We have a bulk food store in your area with associates ready to help. Contact us to learn how our variety of business tools and services can support you, your team, and your bottom line.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.


Chef’Store will look for up-to-date information weekly and update this information as it relates to the foodservice industry.

Last Updated: April 21, 2022

July 2021

  • Saturday, July 17, 2021: Los Angeles County is reimplementing its mask mandate indoors — regardless of vaccination status.

August 2021

  • Monday, August 2, 2021: More Los Angeles County restaurants are requiring proof of vaccination or asking unvaccinated customers to show proof of a negative coronavirus test before entering. This has come from businesses themselves instead of local health officials.
  • Monday, August 16, 2021: New York City will become the first major U.S. city to require proof of vaccination to eat indoors. This includes: restaurants, catering halls, hotel banquet rooms, bars, nightclubs, cafeterias, coffee shops, fast food restaurants, grocery stores with indoor dining and other indoor dining spaces.
  • Monday, August 16, 2021: New Orleans requires anyone aged 12 and older to provide proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose or a negative coronavirus test within 72 hours to access indoor dining, bars, breweries, distilleries and microdistilleries.
  • Friday, August 20, 2021: San Francisco will become the second major city to require many indoor businesses to screen customers for proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

October 2021

  • Wednesday, October 6, 2021: The Los Angeles City Council approved a new ordinance that requires proof of vaccination to enter indoor venues. The rule allows customers to submit written exemptions for religious or medical reasons, but businesses must require those customers to use outdoor facilities, or to show evidence of a negative coronavirus test from the past 72 hours to come inside if no outdoor facilities are available.
  • Thursday, October 21, 2021: A California In-N-Out burger chain location was fined $750 for failing to verify customers' vaccination status at a location in Contra Costa County.
  • Monday, October 25, 2021: King County, WA residents must show proof of a coronavirus vaccination or a negative test beginning Oct, 25th.
  • Thursday October 28, 2021: In New York, inspectors issued warnings to 6,000 businesses for not checking patrons’ status, and 15 were fined $1,000 for being repeat offenders.

December 2021

  • Wednesday, December 1, 2021: Digital COVID vaccine verification tool launched in Washington State. 
  • Monday, December 6, 2021: New York City will require proof of coronavirus vaccination for children ages 5 to 11 to enter restaurants.
  • Thursday, December 9, 2021: Philadelphia could be the next city to implement a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for indoor dining. Officials are considering requiring both patrons and employees to show vaccination.
  • Monday, December 13, 2021: Starting January 3, 2021, Philly will require patrons to show proof of vaccination to eat or drink inside restaurants and bars. After Jan. 17, negative COVID-19 tests will no longer be accepted. Restaurant workers also must be vaccinated. People with proof of valid religious or medical exemptions and children under five years and three months are exempt from the mandate. 
  • Monday, December 20, 2021: In Boston, you will need to show proof of one dose of a vaccination beginning January 15, 2022 and two shots beginning February 15. This applies to patrons and employees 12 and older. Children younger than 12 will need to show proof of vaccination beginning in March 2022.
  • Tuesday, December 21, 2021: Chicago residents 5 and older must be fully vaccinated beginning January 3, 2022 to enter restaurants and bars. Hospitality workers will have an option to produce a negative COVID-19 test weekly if they aren’t vaccinated.
  • Wednesday, December 22, 2021: Starting January 15, 2022 at 6AM, D.C. patrons12 and older will be required to show proof of at least one dose of vaccination to enter restaurants. Proof of a second dose will be required starting February 15.

January 2022

  • Thursday, January 13, 2022: Starting January19, 2022 residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota will need to show proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours to enter establishments serving food or beverages.

February 2022

  • Monday, February 7, 2022: California’s statewide mask mandate will come to an end on February15.
  • Wednesday, February 9, 2022: Come February 16, San Francisco will drop the city’s mask mandate for indoor dining.
  • Thursday, February 10, 2022: Minneapolis and St. Paul lift vaccine-or-test mandate for restaurants and bars effective immediately.
  • Tuesday, February 15, 2022: Washington D.C. has lifted the city’s requirements to show proof of vaccination to enter many businesses including restaurants. The city’s mandate to wear masks in all indoor public spaces will be lifted starting March 1 as well.
  • Wednesday, February 16, 2022: The Philadelphia Department of Public Health has temporarily suspended indoor mask mandates and have announced a new tiered system for determining when COVID-19 safety mandates are needed. The easing of mandates however doesn’t mean they’ll be gone for good.
  • Saturday, February 19, 2022: Boston has lifted vaccine mandates for businesses including restaurants. 
  • Wednesday, February 23, 2022: Chicago’s mask and vaccination mandates for bars and restaurants will end Monday, February 28.

March 2022

  • Monday, March 7, 2022: New York City dropped several of its COVID-19 mandates Monday, including mask and vaccine requirements for restaurants.
  • Wednesday, March 30, 2022: Los Angeles County City Council voted Wednesday to end the COVID-19 vaccine verification requirement at many of the city’s indoor businesses. Businesses also no longer need to verify that customers have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

April 2022

  • Monday, April 11, 2022: Starting April 18, Philadelphia will bring back mask indoor mandate as covid cases rise. The city moves from an “all clear” level to “level 2,” which requires residents to wear masks in indoor public spaces.
The information materials and opinions contained in this blog/website are for general information purposes only, are not intended to constitute legal or other professional advice and should not be relied on or treated as a substitute for specific advice relevant to particular circumstances. We make no warranties, representations, or undertakings about any of the content of this blog/website (including, without limitation, as to the quality, accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose of such content).

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