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D.C. Begins a 3-Week Shutdown on Indoor Dining This Week

An order issued late on a Friday night closes dining rooms from Christmas Eve through January 14

A look inside Reverie’s kitchen.
Georgetown’s Reverie is one of many D.C. restaurants that will have to delete indoor dining starting next week.
Rey Lopez/Eater DC

D.C. is joining a growing list of cities shutting down indoor dining at restaurants, as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations increase throughout the country.

Mayor Muriel Bowser issued an executive order with an announcement late at night Friday, December 18, that will close dining rooms to customers from 10 p.m. Wednesday, December 23, through 5 a.m. Friday, January 15. Bowser’s office confirmed her decision to WJLA earlier Friday afternoon after Washington City Paper broke the news.

The timing of the indoor ban is going to be brutal for D.C. restaurants counting on increased business from Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Many bars have already deciding to go into winter hibernation in the face of restrictions and cold weather, and then try to open again in the spring.

Restaurants will need to rely on takeout and delivery sales, and presumably, outdoor seating will become the only on-site dining option in D.C. With hopes of keeping its “streateries,” decks, and patios going throughout the winter, restaurants have added wind-shields, blankets, and heaters to warm up hardy diners. Hundreds of restaurants have taken advantage of D.C.’s “winter streatery” grant program for help.

Journalists Laura Hayes (City Paper) and Martin Austermuhle (WAMU) floated the news of the D.C. restaurant “pause” Friday morning.

Some D.C. restaurants aren’t wasting any time adjusting their holiday plans in preparation for the indoor shutdown. Italian eatery Modena will move its Christmas Eve dinner from December 24 to December 23 to capitalize on the last night of indoor dining:

Other U.S. areas with indoor dining bans include New York City, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia, and across California. Counties in Maryland shuttered indoor dining this month as well, but Maryland restaurant owners are fighting in court to roll back these bans, with a win this week in Anne Arundel County.

This story has been updated to include Bowser’s official announcement from late Friday night