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D.C. Restaurant Workers Are Now Eligible to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

The city will also extend its cutoff on alcohol consumption to midnight, starting next week

A worker in a blue face mask observes a table for two in front of Italian restaurant Floriana on 17th Street NW
A worker in a blue face mask observes a table for two in front of Italian restaurant Floriana on 17th Street NW
Rey Lopez/Eater D.C.
Tierney Plumb is the editor of Eater DC, covering all things food and drink around the nation's capital.

D.C. restaurant workers are now eligible to register for the COVID-19 vaccine, city officials announced Monday, March 15. Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Health director LaQuandra Nesbitt shared the news in the city’s latest update on public health restrictions.

In another significant piece of news for restaurants, on March 22 the city will begin permitting them to allow alcohol consumption until midnight, two hours later than a cutoff that has been in place since late November. D.C. is not yet adjusting a 25 percent cap on indoor dining capacity that’s been in place since January 22. The mayor says the city will reassess indoor dining capacity and the ability to host live music in April.

Restaurant workers fall under Phase 1C Tier 1 of the city’s vaccination plan. The second tier of that phase opens to another class of essential workers, including ride share drivers and delivery drivers, the week of March 29.

Along with food service staff, newly eligible categories of workers include people in the postal service, mass public transit, public utilities, and local government agency employees.

The latest update included a target date of May 1 for D.C. to open up eligibility to the whole population. According to data shared by the city, D.C. has partially or fully vaccinated 14.2 percent of residents. 150,880 people had received at least one dose, as of March 13.

In Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan announced last week that restaurants were allowed to reopen with no capacity limits as long as tables remained seated and socially distanced. Each jurisdiction is permitted to move at its own pace, however. The Montgomery County Council voted on Friday to expand indoor dining capacity from 25 to 50 percent, starting March 26. Prince George’s County restaurants started operating at half capacity last week.

Virginia has allowed restaurants to operate without capacity limits (but enforce social distancing) since July, and the state adopted a midnight alcohol cutoff at the beginning of March. That makes D.C. the most restrictive dining area across the DMV.

D.C. still 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 patrons will still not be able to stand at bar tops.