Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has closed all bars and restaurants for on-premises consumption in an effort to curb the spread of Covid-19, effective by midnight tonight (Monday, March 23). The closure is expected to last at least a month. Businesses are still able to offer carryout and delivery as usual. Additionally, restaurants are able to sell beer and wine to-go and also offer delivery through third-party services.
While non-essential businesses like theaters and racetracks have been closed prevent mass gatherings, food purveyors like grocery stores and farmers’ markets are considered essential and will remain open. State-controlled ABC liquor stores, which have been required to maintain social-distancing measures, will also remain open.
Northam’s order trails a week behind similar restrictions in DC and Maryland. Governor Larry Hogan and Mayor Muriel Bowser moved to shutter nonessential businesses last week and closed bars and restaurants for on-premise consumption. Additionally, the two jurisdictions passed orders that allowed bars, restaurants, breweries, distilleries, and other licensed operations to serve alcohol to-go, including bottles of wine, liquor, and batched cocktails in closed containers. Some business owners have bemoaned Virginia bars and restaurants remaining open, citing unfair competition and worrying about the potential spread of the disease as people cross the river. In DC, bars and restaurants are otherwise closed until at least April 25.
Some Northern Virginia hospitality businesses have already shuttered amid the growing health crisis and pivoted to carryout/delivery models. Neighborhood Restaurant Group spots like Rustico and Vermillion closed for dine-in last week in favor of all carryout/delivery. The option isn’t just limited to casual dining. Clarity owner Jonathan Krinn stopped serving finer dining menus in his Vienna restaurant, switching to comforting meals like soups and hearty sandwiches for curbside pickup.