A new year brings new vaccine requirements in D.C. starting on Jan. 15, but some restaurant owners said they wanted to begin enforcing the incoming mandate on New Year’s Day.
Throughout the District, the mandate will apply to people ages 12 and up. They’ll have to get at least one shot by Jan. 15 and the second shot by Feb. 15.
As of Saturday afternoon, the ramen restaurant Hatoba in Navy Yard is now requiring all indoor diners to show vaccine cards.
“We just opened and so far so good,” Daisuke Utagawa, of Daikaya restaurant group, said. “With us, safety is the foremost importance for us as well as customers, so we just said let’s just do it that way.”
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The Neighborhood Restaurant Group also jumped on the mandate early. They have 19 restaurants in the area, like Bluejacket and Iron Gate.
Manager Demarre Bates said things didn't go over as smoothly at Bluejacket. In just a few hours, two angry customers said they didn't want to show vaccine cards.
Bates worries it’s a trend that will continue.
"I’m sure that we’re gonna have more guests coming in that are disgruntled and have a rude approach," he said.
They’re not the only ones who are concerned. The owner of the Knightsbridge Restaurant Group had a plea for the public.
"When the restaurant staff ask you for identification, offer proof of vaccination, just be cooperative," Ashok Bajaj said. "They are trying to do their job and keep you and our own employees safe."
People can either show their actual vaccine card or a picture of it on their phone, and they also have to show their photo ID to go along with it.
Several diners told News4 that they were glad to see the mandate.
“That’s great,” Kumar Venayagamoorthy, who was visiting Navy Yard, said. “I think it just helps everyone.”
“It makes me feel better. I think that if you’re gonna be in an indoor space with other people laughing and drinking, it only makes sense, so I have no problem with it,” diner Sarah McKinney said.