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D.C. Restaurants Begin Indoor Seating for the First Time in Three Months

Dining rooms are limited to half capacity, and customers still can’t sit at the bar

Woodley Park diner Open City
Woodley Park diner Open City has announced it will be among the first D.C. restaurants to reopen for indoor dining
Open City [official]

D.C. restaurants can begin seating customers indoors today for the first time in more than three months as the city moves into the second phase of its reopening plan. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Friday, June 19, that the District would enter Phase 2 after the weekend.

Precautions to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus include mandates to operate at half capacity, to space tables at least 6 feet apart, and to institute a six-person maximum per table. Customers cannot sit or stand at bar tops, but workers can mix drinks from behind a bar if no customers are present. People can sit at tables in bar areas if there are no workers behind the bar. Restaurant workers must wear masks. If they handle food, they must wear gloves. All customers have to wear masks when they’re not eating or drinking.

D.C. restaurants have already been allowed to host customers at patios, rooftops, and improvised outdoor spaces since May 29.

Tryst Trading Company owner Constantine Stavropoulos announced that Open City diner, a Woodley Park staple, will be the first property in its restaurant group to welcome customers back inside. The Washington Post reports that the five D.C. locations of progressive cafe Busboys and Poets will reopen with limited seating and plexiglass separating customers from tables. Nellie’s Sports Bar owner Douglas Warren Schantz tells the Post he won’t reopen the popular drag brunch spot for indoor seating until July 4.

Since Bowser enacted a dine-in ban on March 16, several restaurants have implemented takeout, delivery, and market-oriented options intended to last until there’s a medical solution for the virus. For example, luxe Mediterranean tasting menu restaurant Komi continues to operate its vegetarian diner pop-up, Happy Gyro, for takeout. In-demand Filipino spot Bad Saint just reopened for weekend pickup.

In addition to restaurants, the city is also allowing gyms and workout facilities to reopen, with a limit of five people per 1,000 square feet.

Bowser has followed a more cautious pace in reopening than her counterparts in Virginia and Maryland. Northern Virginia began allowing indoor dining Friday, June 12, a week later than the rest of the state. In Maryland, Prince George’s County welcomed diners back inside restaurants on Monday, June 15, with Montgomery County following four days later.

Through Friday, Washington had reported 10,020 positive cases and 533 deaths stemming from COVID-19. Virginia has reported 57,994 cases and 1,611 deaths. Maryland has been hit hardest, with 64,306 cases and 3,066 deaths.

Read the District’s full Phase 2 guidelines for restaurants below:

Open City

3101 Wisconsin Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20016 (202) 965-7670