WASHINGTON — Indoor dining will be banned in D.C. beginning Dec. 23 at 10 p.m. as the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continues to rise in D.C.
Friday afternoon, a person close to the discussions surrounding a plan to scale back on allowable activities in the District told WUSA9 the city was working on a plan that could include a ban on indoor dining.
However, Friday evening before 10:30 p.m., Mayor Muriel Bowser's office issued Executive Order 2020-127 to pause various activities in the District. The order, which begins just two days before Christmas Day, lasts until Jan. 15, 2021, at 5 a.m.
D.C. would not be the first region in the DMV to restrict indoor dining before the holidays.
Prince George's County suspended indoor dining through Jan. 16, allowing outdoor dining to continue at 50% capacity. Montgomery County has banned all indoor dining until further notice, allowing outdoor dining to continue during restricted hours (6 a.m. -10 p.m.). Baltimore City took it one step further, shutting down all indoor and outdoor dining, allowing restaurants only to operate for takeout and delivery.
On Friday, however, The Restaurant Association of Maryland announced it had filed for temporary restraining orders and injunctions to reopen indoor dining
Courts in Anne Arundel County have already ruled on a similar request, overturning the county's decision to ban indoor and allowing restaurants to continue indoor dining at 25% capacity until Dec. 28.
"Restaurants are the backbone of every community and neighborhood," Marshall Weston Jr., president of the Restaurant Association of Maryland, said. "Rather than having gatherings and parties in our homes, restaurants provide a safe and regulated space to meet and gather with friends safely."
WUSA9 reached out to Bowser's office for comment but has not heard back yet.
Kathy E. Hollinger, President and CEO of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) released the following statement to WUSA9 regarding the plan to scale back on indoor dining:
"The restaurant industry is really hurting and has been uniquely impacted by this pandemic. The timing of the upcoming rollback in DC to prohibit indoor dining is not ideal as we head into Christmas and New Years Eve, as this is typically a time of year when people come together, dine out, and celebrate. Regional health leaders are looking at hospitalizations and ICU levels even more than cases, and region-wide jurisdictions are pausing in many ways to get control of those numbers.
In all our conversations with leaders, we push back in all the ways we can. We continue to advocate on behalf of restaurants and insist that any rollbacks or guidance that impact restaurants' operations are rooted in clear science. This is not an easy decision to make, nor is it easy for us to advise our industry to rollback operations going into the holidays. In the big picture, it’s not beneficial to keep rolling forward to then keep rolling back.
On the holiday impact, if diners planned on taking advantage of indoor dining during the holidays, we encourage them to continue to let restaurants do the cooking, support local businesses, and to have holidays at home with food prepared by local restaurants."