Food services—which include restaurants and grocery stores—are considered essential and can remain open under DC’s 7 PM curfew, though a large number have closed. Mayor Muriel Bowser says the restriction is intended to make it more manageable for police officers to focus on individuals “intent on destruction” amid largely peaceful protests.
Bowser’s curfew order, in effect Monday and Tuesday, exempts “essential workers,” including healthcare workers, media with outlet-issued credentials, and individuals who are voting or participating in election activities. The Mayor’s office did not respond to multiple emails Monday seeking clarification about whether restaurant and other food workers were considered essential in this situation. A Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson provided an answer Monday evening, half an hour after the curfew began: “Food services are considered essential and will remain open.”
Still, many businesses closed a few hours before 7 PM in order to give their employees time to get home safely. Others have opted to suspend operations altogether until Wednesday. Even if restaurants wanted to stay open, they might not have a way to get food to people. Delivery platforms such as Caviar and DoorDash have temporarily suspended operations in DC. And anyone who is non-essential is subject to being stopped or arrested and may be asked to show credentials, Bowser said in a press conference. Metro will close an hour early at 8 PM and Metrobus is suspending operations at 9 PM.
The curfew comes just a few days after food businesses were allowed to reopen outdoor seating for the first time in more than 10 weeks of dine-in closures.
“It is not an exaggeration to say that we’ve been open for every single day since this pandemic started,” 14th Street restaurant Pearl Dive posted on Instagram, announcing it will be closed over the next couple days. “We are now at a critical moment in our nation’s history and we ultimately decided we should take a moment to process all that is happening. Our team members need time to grieve in so many ways, so does our nation.”
“It was a pretty easy decision. We want to make sure our staff is safe. It’s as simple as that,” says chef/owner Mike Friedman. “With the curfew going into place, it’s an even more easy call for us.”
Businesses across the city—from H Street Northeast to Georgetown—boarded up today after vandalism, window smashing, and looting over the last few nights. Despite the damage, many made a point to say they stood in solidarity with the protesters, posting “Black Lives Matter” messages on their social media feeds.
“There’s insurance to cover things like this, but we are both just so sad and heartbroken about what’s happening in the country and how things came to this,” says Teasism co-owner Linda Neumann, whose White House-adjacent restaurant burned last night. “We completely understand, and we’re thankful that nobody was hurt and no lives were lost.”