On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser ordered all DC bars and restaurants to close, effective at 10 PM, while the country combats a growing coronavirus crisis. They will still be allowed to offer takeout and delivery, The mandate follows an initial wave of restrictions over the weekend that shuttered nightclubs, prohibited bar seating, and required six feet between tables.
The order comes on the heels of a similar announcement from Maryland governor Larry Hogan that closed bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and gyms throughout the state. Restaurants are allowed to offer takeout and delivery in Maryland as well. Dozens of businesses across the DC-area have already closed and a large number have already switched to carryout or delivery only, from casual neighborhood operations to Michelin-starred dining rooms.
Businesses are also getting creative with their offerings, such as Emilie’s on Capitol Hill, which is selling pantry items and discounted wine along with meals, or 14th Street’s Cork Market, where the purchase of a bottle of wine comes with a free roll of toilet paper. High-end dining rooms, such as Kinship, are offering less expensive, comforting meals to-go, while Komi will resume its Happy Gyro casual vegetarian diner pop-up in carryout form later this week. Meanwhile, third-party delivery services like DoorDash/Caviar and Postmates are promoting “no-contact” food drop-offs to keep couriers and customers safe.
The hospitality industry across the US has been hit particularly hard by the health crisis and its economic ramifications. Prior to Bowser’s announcement, several DC-area bars and restaurants were promoting a #shutusdown social media campaign, urging the government to mandate closures in hopes of receiving swift emergency financial assistance. The DC City Council is expected to vote on a draft piece of emergency relief legislation on Tuesday. Kathy Hollinger, president of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington (RAMW), says the organization is working with local and federal legislators on relief efforts, which could come in the form of tax breaks or emergency funds. The RAMW’s Worker Relief Fund has raised over $14,000 in 48 hours.
In the meantime, there are grassroots efforts to aid hospitality workers. Hook Hall Helps, which operates out of the huge Park View beer hall, is a multi-faceted program that offers free meals, emergency supply kits, and other services. Employers are also doing what they can, such as the Goodbar Management Group (Bar Charley, Quarry Tavern etc.), which is offering daily employee meal package pick-ups at the restaurants as long as they’re closed.