D.C. required restaurants to close indoor dining in December, in an attempt to reduce coronavirus spread over the holidays.
D.C.'s indoor dining ban will end on January 22. Restaurants will be able to return to serving 25% of their regular capacity inside, according to a tweet from John Falcicchio, the chief of staff to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
The ban — or as Falcicchio put it, the "Inauguration Pause" — went into effect on December 23, and was part of a series of steps implemented to try to flatten the curve of rapidly-rising coronavirus cases in the District. The order was originally set to expire on January 15, but Bowser extended it by another week, citing public health and safety concerns in the wake of the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol and in the lead-up to the presidential inauguration.
With dining establishments back open for indoor dining, Restaurant Week will take place starting on January 25. It was rescheduled after the extension of the indoor dining ban.
Museums and libraries were also ordered to close for indoor visitors under the same December 23 order, and the D.C. Circulator route around the National Mall was also temporarily shuttered. Those closures are also set to expire on Friday. Some museums may not reopen immediately, however: The Smithsonian closed the National Zoo and its museums a month before the December order, and has not set a reopening date.
Though officials are lifting the indoor dining ban, the pandemic is still raging in the District. Last week, D.C. recorded its highest rate of new cases yet: 45.9 per 100,000 people. The District's case rate has gone down over the past week, but it's still much higher than the peak of the first surge last spring. D.C. hospitals are at just over 80% of capacity, down from a high of 89% earlier this month, according to DC Health data. Though the District is now moving to vaccinate adults 65 years and older, as well as first responders and health care workers, the rollout of vaccinations has been rocky across the city. Some have also questioned the equity of the vaccine rollout across the District after five wards saw the fewest sign-ups during the initial release of appointment windows last week.
Reopening restaurants amid the current coronavirus picture is worrying some locals.
The restaurant industry in D.C., especially downtown, has been hit hard by the pandemic — and this week, by the security perimeter, too.
"Those businesses in the central business district were really being impacted by the pandemic. And so to have this additional burden on them is really going to be troublesome for those businesses," Falcicchio told DCist/WAMU earlier this week. He pledged outreach to businesses downtown struggling in the wake of the pandemic and the closures.
This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.