Pro-life Americans from across the country are planning to attend the March for Life on Friday, Jan. 21 in Washington, D.C.
Most years, the No. 1 question marchers have ahead of the event is, “What’s the weather forecast?”
This year, because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, those thinking about coming have a host of other pressing questions. That’s because the District of Columbia recently enacted new COVID-19 access rules for businesses in response to a current surge in cases.
There’s a lot you need to know. So let’s get right to it.
What about bathrooms?
The short answer is that accessing bathrooms should not be a problem, whether you are vaccinated or not.
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A key reason we can say this is that the district’s rules specify that proof of vaccination is not required to use a restaurant restroom, or to pick up take-out food (more on that in a moment.)
This means that marchers can access their usual bathroom stops, including Union Station, which is conveniently located near the U.S. Supreme Court, where the march concludes. Likewise, national museums along the National Mall, such as the Smithsonian museums and the National Gallery of Art, do not require proof of vaccination for admission.
Will I be able to find food?
Yes. Having said that, there are a few things to bear in mind.
Proof of vaccination or a documented exemption (we’re getting to that next) is required to sit down and eat inside a restaurant within the district. That includes museum cafes and restaurants inside hotels where marchers may be staying.
But as we just mentioned, take-out food does not require proof of vaccination. Also, the restrictions don’t apply to grocery stores and pharmacies, where you can buy drinks and snacks.
Finally, most food delivery apps (Uber Eats, Postmates, DoorDash, etc.) operate in D.C. and do not require proof of vaccination.
Bottom line: You won’t go hungry or thirsty.
What do the rules actually say?
Having addressed the basic necessities of life, let’s take a closer look at what the new rules say.
Beginning Jan. 15, the District of Columbia is requiring all those 12 and older to show proof of receiving at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot to enter most businesses. The rules apply to indoor food and drink establishments such as nightclubs, taverns, banquet halls, convention centers, food halls and food courts, breweries, wineries, seated dining halls, restaurants, and cafes in museums, libraries, and hotels.
Wait, didn’t you just say the food court at Union Station wouldn’t be an issue?
Ah, you’re paying attention. Good! Yes, you can get take out food and use the bathrooms at Union Station, but if you want to sit down and eat there, those 12 and up need proof of vaccination.
What about churches?
No vaccination proof is required.
And public transportation?
No vaccination proof is required.
No vaccination proof is required, unless you plan to sit down to eat in a hotel cafe or restaurant, or if plan to enter meeting rooms or hotel ballrooms.
What about exemptions?
If a person has a medical or religious exemption from the vaccine, he or she must show proof of the exemption along with a negative COVID test within the last 24 hours. Businesses must also verify vaccination with photo identification for those 18 and older.
What proof of vaccination is acceptable?
Vaccinated marchers can prove their vaccination status with vaccination cards, photos of vaccination cards, immunization records, COVID-19 verification apps, or a World Health Organization Vaccination Record.
What are the masking rules?
Masks are required in all public indoor areas, regardless of one’s vaccination status. Masks are also required outdoors if one is unable to social distance, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior, which oversees the National Mall property. Organizers of the March for Life say marchers should wear masks unless they are eating or drinking.
“Because the protection of all of those who participate in the annual March, as well as all of those who work tirelessly each year to ensure a safe and peaceful event, is a top priority of the March for Life, we encourage anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to remain at home and participate virtually,” March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said.
“Face masks for those who need them will be available at the rally site, as well as hand sanitizer,” she added.
The rally will be live streamed on the March for Life website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel, beginning at 12 noon EST.
Finally, what’s the weather forecast?
Partly sunny with a high of 29, according to the National Weather Service’s extended forecast for Jan. 21. So dress warmly!
LifeNews Note: Katie Yoder writes for Catholic News Agency, where this column originally appeared.