DC restaurants must reduce indoor dining capacity to 25 percent beginning today. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the tightened restrictions three weeks ago in an effort to get rising Covid-19 cases under control. Outdoor dining, pick-up, and delivery are still allowed as usual.
Meanwhile, Maryland suburbs that were previously operating at a quarter capacity are now moving to shut down indoor dining altogether. Prince’s George’s and Anne Arundel counties are suspending indoor service from Wednesday, Dec. 16, at 5 PM through at least January 16 and 13, respectively. Montgomery County is headed toward the same as soon as 5 PM on Tuesday. County Executive Marc Elrich signed an executive order to implement the new restriction, which is pending review by the county council.
Virginia continues to allow dining rooms to operate at 50-percent capacity.
Local jurisdictions have also recently reduced restaurant and bar operating hours. No alcohol sales are allowed on-site after 10 PM in DC and its suburbs, though restaurants can deliver wine, beer, and cocktail until midnight in the District. DC and Virginia restaurants can continue to serve food on-site until midnight. Maryland establishments must close at 10 PM.
These restrictions make the need for government financial relief even more essential for many business’ survival. This may be a make or break week for Congress to pass a new economic rescue package. Restaurant owners and workers have been lobbying for a $120 billion grant fund that would help independent establishments nationwide to cover rent, payroll, and more. So far, it hasn’t gotten the traction they hoped for.