WASHINGTON — The District's indoor dining ban will be lifted Friday at 5 a.m. and restaurants will be able to return to serving 25% of their regular capacity inside.
According to a tweet from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's chief of staff, John Falcicchio, the dining ban -- or "Inauguration Pause" -- that went into effect on Dec. 23 was the pause of certain Phase 2 activities, such as indoor dining, due to "public health and safety" concerns.
The previous executive order issued during the holiday period, just two days before Christmas, was set to expire on Jan. 15, 2021, at 5 a.m. However, Bowser extended the executive order, citing both public health and safety concerns in the wake of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots leading up to the Biden-Harris inauguration.
During the 30 days, indoor dining was banned in D.C, the general manager of District Soul Food in Capitol Hill said some of his staff members had to be laid off.
“It was rough," Willie Jones said. "People had to pay the bills, had to pay the rent, people have kids and it’s real hard. We got some relief, but not a whole lot."
Jones said the restaurant lost 70% of its revenue by not having the option to allow diners to sit inside.
"I have never in my lifetime seen anything like this pandemic," Jones, who has been in the restaurant industry for 40 years, said.
He said he's happy diners can have the option to dine inside rather than having to rely on takeout, adding he's hopeful this will be a sign things will only get better.
"There is hope. I think 2021 is going to be a fantastic year," Jones said. "I’m hoping the restaurant industry will bounce back by maybe 50, 60%. I’m looking at 2022 for it to come back 100%. Because of this pandemic I know we’re going to have to take small steps."
The lifting of the District's indoor dining ban comes as the city prepares for Metropolitan Washington Restaurant Week -- which takes place starting Jan. 25. The original date of D.C.'s winter restaurant week was rescheduled after the extension of the indoor dining ban.
Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington CEO Kathy E. Hollinger issued the following statement about the District's decision to lift the ban on indoor dining:
“Very pleased the mayor has lifted the pause on indoor dining. While our restaurants are incredibly innovative and creative in finding ways to meet diners where they are by offering culinary experience with takeout and delivery options, this will offer a much-needed boost particularly as we go into winter restaurant week - which kicks off Monday 1/25 for a two-week stretch.”
Additionally, several museums and libraries were also ordered to close for indoor visitors under the same executive order. Those closures are also set to expire Friday; there is no word yet on the reopening date for museums and libraries.
While the indoor ban has been lifted, the District's Public Health Emergency order is still in place until March 31, 2021. (Note: the emergency order should not be confused with a stay-at-home order).
By declaring a public health emergency in the city, it activates a broad range of powers that enable Mayor Bowser to mobilize both people and resources quickly to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Read the city's public health emergency order in full below:
Use the arrow on the chart below to navigate through the epidemic curves for D.C., Maryland and Virginia.