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Some Washingtonians Are Still Hanging Out at Bars, Social Distancing Be Damned

They're drinking together on patios and sidewalks after picking up orders. Now a backlash is on.

Photo by Flickr user Tedeytan.

A spring weekend with temperatures in the 70s would typically draw crowds around DC. But with a stay at home order in place, Saturday’s blue skies…still brought crowds. Social distancing be damned, Washingtonians were photographed gathering at the National Mall and hanging out on 14th Street.

The latter caught Twitter’s attention after Eater DC editor Gabe Hiatt tweeted a photo of people drinking on Red Light’s patio.

The ensuing Twitter frenzy fell into two parties: Blaming businesses or blaming patrons. Public shaming took a break from chastising runners without masks, and turned to those treating 14th Street like a beer garden.

As for Red Light, Saturday was the pizza joint’s busiest day since transitioning to carryout, says owner Aaron Gordon. Working with a smaller staff than usual, employees were inside managing the high volume of orders when people began congregating (Gordon himself was not at the restaurant on Saturday). Customers who ordered jarred cocktails picked up their drinks while they waited—no longer the case at Red Light—while others sipped pouches from a neighboring spot.

After receiving a call from the mayor’s office, staff cleared the patio and stacked the chairs in the back. An investigator visited the bar on Saturday evening and issued a warning, according to an ABRA spokesperson. The tables remain on the patio because they’re affixed to the concrete. But don’t consider it an open invitation. “Don’t come sit on my patio,” says Gordon “I beg of you!”

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Daniella Byck

Daniella joined Washingtonian in August 2018. She is a University of Wisconsin-Madison grad and lives in Logan Circle.