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.
72 degrees and it's patio season on 14th Street no matter what pic.twitter.com/JLrOnPN1WQ
— Gabe Hiatt (@Gabecito) May 2, 2020
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.
I'm seeing all the pictures of people sitting on the patios at red light and crowding 14th Street and this is why I can't just like go for a GD walk on a beautiful Saturday because it'll be impossible to social distance because I live on 14th St and I hate everyone
— Becka ? Wall (@beckawall) May 2, 2020
when you're stuck inside in june and july you can blame these assholes https://t.co/ofsjSKwzBi
— Tony Romm (@TonyRomm) May 4, 2020
I don’t blame @RedlightBarDC for the crowds, the people who have no problem disregarding the guidelines are gathering all over town. The problem is the disrespect from wide swaths of our region that are jeopardizing a successful reopening
— Zac Hoffman ? (@zac_hoffman) May 3, 2020
— Luna (@BasicWitchofNW) May 2, 2020
I'm so excited to see people being dumbasses in DC!! Trust me, my unemployed friends and I are really looking forward to our place of employment being closed all summer because you couldn't stay away from a goddamn patio for a few more weeks!!!!
— delaney (@delaneyyyw) May 2, 2020
This is why I literally don’t leave my house except to grocery shop. Sure a socially distanced walk would be nice but between this and runners without masks that seem to think they have the right of way, it doesn’t seem worth it! https://t.co/7K0jTiyvoy
— Tonya Riley (@TonyaJoRiley) May 2, 2020
I‘m sure they’d recoil @ comparison, but ppl hitting DC bars’ patios, or 6 dudes on balcony across street, etc – how are they different from huge crowds who “protested” on Cali beaches yesterday, etc? DC’s cases are still rising. We’re still in this thing.
— Marc Schleifer (@marcfs13) May 2, 2020
DC friends: I love eating and drinking outside as much as the next guy, but picnics in a packed park are not, in fact, “recreational activity.” #StayHome
— Corey Jacobson (@CoreyJacobson) May 2, 2020
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!”