MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Montgomery County leaders officially introduced “vaccine passport” legislation, almost mirroring what is set to take effect in Washington, D.C. later this week.

“Once we had a regional neighbor, a large regional neighbor, who was enacting a similar policy we thought it made sense to move forward with something we thought had been a good idea for a long time,” said assistant chief administrative officer Dr. Earl Stoddard.

The law would require proof of COVID-19 vaccination to get into bars, restaurants, gyms, and other spots.

Leaders hope the law will increase vaccinations and decrease infections. Montgomery County leaders cited New York City, where leaders made a similar move several months ago and saw a jump in vaccinations after it took effect.

“Restaurants and other businesses as such continue to be in the top five places we see exposure,” said Montgomery County’s acting health officer Dr. James Bridgers.

The first phase of the vaccine passport law could go into effect as soon as Jan. 22. The phases as they are currently written in the legislation are as follows:

  1. Effective January 22, 2022: proof of 1 dose required for patrons 12 years and older;
  2. Effective February 15, 2022: proof of all doses (excluding boosters) required for patrons
    12 years and older; and
  3. Effective March 1, 2022: proof of all doses (excluding boosters) required for patrons 5
    years-and-one-month and older.

Members of the Montgomery County Council are on board for the most part but say there are still a few kinks to work out.

“I’m very concerned about the potential for businesses to have to deal with those claiming an exemption. That sounds very complicated,” said councilmember Hans Riemer.

The current legislation does not require proof of a booster shot but does allow for exceptions for religious and medical reasons.