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D.C. Will Start Enforcing a 10 P.M. Last Call for Bars and Restaurants This Week

The city will also require restaurants to limit indoor capacity to 25 percent in mid-December

A cocktail from Seven Reasons
A cocktail from Seven Reasons
Rey Lopez/For Seven Reasons

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has followed her counterparts in Maryland and Virginia by tightening public health restrictions on bars and restaurants, starting with how late customers are allowed to drink.

Bowser announced in a news conference that, effective Wednesday, November 25, all restaurants and bars in the District must cut off alcohol sales at 10 p.m. Businesses have been allowed to sell alcoholic drinks until midnight since June under D.C.’s Phase 2 reopening guidelines. The night before Thanksgiving is traditionally busy for bars, in particular.

“We see less compliance with the [public safety] rules later into the evening,” Bowser said at the news conference. D.C. requires all customers to wear a face mask at bars and restaurants when they’re not actively eating and drinking. Parties are limited to six people or fewer, and the city does not allow patrons to stand or be served from across a bar top.

Starting Monday, December 14, D.C. restaurants must operate at 25 percent capacity indoors, a rollback from the 50 percent limit that went into place on June 22. Bowser said the delay from announcement to enforcement will “give the restaurant operators some ability to adjust their operations.”

Like cities and states around the country, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have seen the virus spread at an increased rate over the fall. The District has reported a 25 percent rise in new cases over the past week, a spike on par with spring levels. D.C. reported two deaths over that time. In Maryland, which has seen a 31 percent rise in new cases over the past week, Governor Larry Hogan ordered a 50 percent capacity limit in restaurants statewide on November 11. D.C.-adjacent areas such as Montgomery County and Prince George’s County enforce a 25 percent limit. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s latest mandate, enacted November 13, includes a 10 p.m. last call for alcohol in restaurants.

Other restrictions that go into place in D.C. this week include a 10-person limit for indoor gatherings, a 25-person limit for outdoor gatherings, and the suspension of the city’s live music pilot program.