DC Restaurants Can Operate at 100 Percent Capacity Starting May 21

Bars and nightclubs will have to wait until June.

The dining room at Unconventional Diner.

This post has been updated to reflect that bars with tavern licenses can now operate at full capacity starting May 21; nightclubs and multipurpose facilities will operate at 50 percent capacity until June 11.

Earlier today, DC mayor Muriel Bowser announced that capacity restrictions at the city’s restaurants, bars with tavern licenses, and most other types of venues will lift on May 21. Nightclubs and “multipurpose facilities” will have to wait until June 11 to fully reopen; until then, they can operate at 50 percent indoor capacity.

Since late January, when the District allowed indoor dining to resume, there have been several rules in place to mitigate the spread of Covid. Dining rooms’ occupancies have been capped at 25 percent. Alcohol sales and consumption at restaurants were prohibited after 10 PM until March, when the deadline was pushed to midnight. Customers must be seated at all times, and can only sit at a bar if it is not staffed by a bartender.

A spokesperson from Mayor Bowser’s office says that all of these rules—with the exception of the mask order—will be rolled back. Essentially, bars and restaurants will soon be able to go back to their pre-pandemic operations. Deputy mayor John Falcicchio released a statement saying that businesses will be required to “enforce mask wearing and to assist with contact tracing, and we will also ask them to promote vaccinations.”

Indoor dining capacity limits were lifted in Maryland in early March, and Virginia has allowed full dining rooms since last summer.

Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Petworth.