DC joins other big US tourist cities turning to indoor vaccine or testing mandates

Editor’s Note — CNN has launched Unlocking the World, a weekly newsletter to guide you through the latest travel developments and more. Sign up here.(CNN) — If you want to enjoy an indoor meal, drinks or entertainment in some of the most popular urban escapes in the United States, you better have proof of vaccination or, in some cases, at least a negative result from a recent Covid-19 test with you.

Some big tourism spots, such as New York City, have already had mandates in place for months. But with the highly infectious Omicron variant of coronavirus rapidly spreading, more US cities are introducing restrictions. Washington, DC, announced Wednesday, December 22, that it’s joining that list of places imposing mandates (see more below).

It’s a good thing to keep in mind, especially if you’re traveling from a part of the country that isn’t as strict about masks, testing and vaccines.

As of December 21, here are some of the major US destinations that are already outlining mandates regarding vaccination and testing or have announced plans to do so soon:


Boston Mayor Michelle Wu announced Monday, December 20, that her city would be requiring proof of Covid-19 vaccination for indoor dining, fitness venues, theaters and arenas.

The mandate will apply to patrons and employees and will come online in phases.

For people 12 and older, proof of a single dose of vaccine will be required starting January 15. Proof of full vaccination will be required February 15. Learn more at Boston.gov, including acceptable ways to show proof of vaccination.


The nation’s third-largest city will require proof of vaccination for most businesses that serve food or drinks starting January 3, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced Tuesday, December 21.

The new requirement will be in effect for anyone 6 and older at restaurants, gyms, theaters, bars, and other entertainment and sporting venues that serve food and drinks, she said in a news conference.

All patrons must be fully vaccinated to enter these establishments, she said, and there will be no testing option. Unvaccinated employees of these venues will have a test-out option, according to Lightfoot.

Grocery stores, schools, places of worship, office buildings and residential buildings are exempt. Learn more at Chicago.gov.

Los Angeles

In Los Angeles, all customers served in the indoor part of a food or beverage establishment and other types of indoor venues must show proof of full vaccination before entry. Enforcement began on November 29.

Also, California now requires universal masking in indoor public settings through January 15, California Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly announced last week. Learn more from the California Department of Health.

New Orleans

Want to drink at a French Quarter bar in New Orleans? You need to have proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to enter.

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Down in the Gulf region, foodie and party favorite New Orleans also has a mandate in place.

Anyone 12 or older must have proof of at least one vaccine shot — or a negative result from a Covid-19 test taken in the past 72 hours — to enter indoor restaurants, bars, music halls, indoor sports arenas, casinos and other entertainment venues. Get important details at ready.nola.gov.

New York City

The “Key to NYC” mandate has been in effect since September 13 and is being further tightened in December.

Restaurants, movie theaters and other venues are open — but their indoor spaces are open only to vaccinated patrons 12 and older who have had at least one dose of vaccine. Starting Tuesday, December 14, children 5 to 12 must show proof of at least one dose of vaccine.

And starting December 27, the website says “people 12 and older participating in public indoor activities will be required to show proof they have received two vaccine doses, except for those who have received the one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.” Find out more at the “Key to NYC” website.


Philadelphia has announced it will require proof of full Covid-19 vaccination for admission to many indoor public spaces.

The mandate is set to go into effect starting January 3. For the first two weeks of the mandate, January 3 through 17, establishments may accept proof of a negative Covid-19 test result taken within the past 24 hours instead of proof of vaccination. Starting January 18, only the fully vaccinated may enter.

Among the types of establishments covered by the mandate: indoor restaurant spaces and bars; cafes within museums; catering halls and food courts; and entertainment venues, conventions and casinos where food is served. Find out more, including exceptions, from the City of Philadelphia.

San Francisco

The Golden Gate Bridge is the iconic symbol of San Francisco, one of the major tourist destinations in the United States with a vaccine mandate for many indoor activities.

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

West Coast travel darling San Francisco requires proof of full vaccination to visit bars, restaurants, gyms and other indoor entertainment establishments for patrons 12 and older.

A negative Covid-19 test can’t be used in lieu of proof of vaccination in San Francisco. Get more details at SF.gov.


Seattle requires that patrons 12 and older be able to show proof of full vaccination or present a negative Covid-19 test result to enter indoor restaurants and bars, indoor sports events, and outdoor sports events with more than 500 people. Learn more from King County.

Washington, DC

NEW: Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday, December 21, that the city will require proof of vaccination for restaurants, gyms and other gathering places for patrons 12 and older.

The vaccine requirement for gathering places will go into effect on January 15, when patrons will be required to show proof of at least one dose.

Top image: The White House. (Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

CNN’s Evan Simko-Bednarski, Kay Jones, Mirna Alsharif and Sarah Fortinsky contributed to this article.