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Washington, D.C., to vaccinate restaurant workers against COVID starting Feb. 1

Under the current schedule, the process would begin the day after a local restaurant festival.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Restaurant workers in Washington, D.C., should start receiving COVID-19 vaccines around Feb. 1., according to Mayor Muriel Bowser, or a day after the city concludes its annual 14-day Winter Restaurant Week.

In revealing the District of Columbia’s schedule for inoculating all residents, Bowser stressed that the beginning of next month is the targeted start date for vaccinating “other essential workers,” a category that includes restaurant employees. Depending on how much of the two approved vaccines are available, “we can turn them on sooner or later,” she said during a Monday press conference.

By that time, the vaccines should have been offered to all residents aged 65 or older and specific groups of essential workers, including grocery-store employees, public-safety personnel and pre-school teachers and staff members. As of Monday, the mayor said, just under 17,000 people living or working in the District have gotten the first of the two shots that are necessary to trigger a resistance to COVID-19. The city-state has another 23,086 doses on hand for inoculations, with the inventory scheduled to increase by 4,200 doses next week. Bowser said supplies of the vaccine will continue to increase every week.

Her announcement makes Washington one of the first major cities in the nation to indicate when its restaurant workers can expect to begin the two-shot inoculation process.  Chicago revealed this week that foodservice workers within its healthcare facilities have received the first round of vaccines, but not enough supplies are on hand to extend the protection to restaurant workers. Mayor Lori Lightfoot did not reveal when that threshold might be reached.

Unless Washington accelerates its vaccination schedule, only customers would have been given a first shot by the time the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington begins its Winter Restaurant Week. The promotion, whereby local restaurants offer special deals as a lure for guests during what is normally a slow period for the industry, is scheduled to run from Jan. 18 through Jan. 31.

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