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DC to loosen COVID restrictions beginning May 1. Here's what is changing

Residents will be able to get vaccinated without an appointment at walk-up sites across the city for the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said capacity limits for entertainment venues, special events, pools, recreational activities, retail stores, libraries and museums will be increased in May.

Bowser also announced during a news conference Monday that residents will be able to get vaccinated without an appointment at walk-up sites across the city for the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Starting May 1, the following COVID-19 changes will go into effect for the District:

  • Seated live entertainment venues will reopen, both indoors and outdoors, with a capacity limit of 25% or 500 people -- whichever is less
  • Movie theaters can reopen at 25% capacity
  • Live music will be allowed near outdoor restaurant seating
  • Weddings and special events, business meetings and conventions can operate at 25% capacity or 250 people -- whichever is less
  • Graduations will be allowed, with limits
  • Non-essential retail will operate at 50% capacity indoors and outdoors
  • Libraries, museums and galleries can reopen at 50%, both indoors and outdoors
  • Indoor and outdoor public pools, in addition to indoor recreation centers, can reopen at 50%
  • Outdoor races, such as 5K races, can resume at 50% capacity
  • Outdoor splash pads can reopen at full capacity

During her weekly COVID-19 update on Monday, Bowser said that there was an expectation of there being some increases in cases throughout the District, but with the availability of vaccines, along with the remaining restrictions in place, city officials believe the number of cases will eventually decline.

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As of Monday, 490,911 total doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered, with 33.6% of D.C. residents being either partially or fully vaccinated, Bowser said.

The latest move on relaxing more COVID restrictions in the District comes after the mayor announced that several COVID restrictions regarding outdoor gatherings, restaurant alcohol sales, indoor dining and recreational sports were being loosened starting March 22.

Outdoor gatherings can now include up to 50 people if they can still socially distance. Indoor gatherings, according to Bowser, must be in accordance with DC Health and the guidance provided by the CDC.

RELATED: DC begins loosening restrictions on outdoor gatherings, alcohol sales, sports in DC

Bowser said during a March 15 news conference that she would conduct an April check-in and reassessment of how the capacity for indoor and outdoor dining limits was working. 

“We have not crushed the virus in this city or this nation and we have to be mindful of that,” Bowser said. “We can’t go back to normal [yet] because this virus is still circulating in our city, people are still getting sick and going to the hospital and people are still dying.”

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