DC Restaurants and Bars Can Now Face Fines for Not Enforcing the Mask Mandate

Businesses will receive a warning, then a $1,000 fine.

Greek Deli owner Kostas Fostieris and his staff masked up. Photograph by Evy Mages

Mayor Muriel Bowser reinstated the indoor mask mandate for everyone, vaccinated or not, over the weekend. And now, DC restaurants, bars, and other liquor-serving establishments will again face fines for not enforcing the rules.

A first violation will result in a warning from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). The second will lead to a $1,000 fine. After three or more violations, the business’s liquor license will be reviewed by the DC liquor board.

The enforcement is slightly less punitive than it was during the previous round of government restrictions. In phase two, businesses could receive either a warning or a $1,000 fine for first-time mask violations and a $2,000 fine for the second offense. Three or more offenses similarly resulted in the case being referred to the liquor board.

Patrons are still required to wear masks “unless actively eating or drinking,” however enforcement efforts will “primarily focus” on ensuring businesses are requiring masks at entry and that staff are wearing masks indoors. Investigators still have the authority to respond to complaints and issue fines to establishments that aren’t requiring patrons to wear masks once indoors while not eating or drinking.

This story has been updated with additional comments from the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration. 


Jessica Sidman
Food Editor

Jessica Sidman covers the people and trends behind D.C.’s food and drink scene. Before joining Washingtonian in July 2016, she was Food Editor and Young & Hungry columnist at Washington City Paper. She is a Colorado native and University of Pennsylvania grad.