Restaurants in Washington will be able to welcome their customers inside for the first time since Christmas as the citywide indoor dining ban is set to expire on Jan. 22.
The restriction on indoor dining, referred to by Mayor Muriel Bowser as the “holiday pause,” went into effect on Dec. 22 as part of the city’s effort to curb the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist party) virus.
It was originally scheduled to end on Jan. 15 but Bowser extended it by another week, citing public health and security concerns in the wake of the violence and protests that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 and the incoming presidential inauguration.
“This has been a tough week for businesses inside and already tough year,” Bowser said on Thursday at a press conference. She expressed gratitude to many restaurants for feeding the National Guard troops and law enforcement officers deployed to the city during the Inauguration Week, as well as residents for supporting local businesses.
As the capital removes barriers and reopens its roads, Bowser said, the extended indoor dinning ban will end at 5 a.m. Friday, allowing restaurants to provide dine-in services until they reach 25 percent of their regular indoor capacity.
Bowser also encouraged residents to support restaurants and explore special offers during the annual Winter Restaurant Week, which will start on Jan. 25 and conclude on Feb. 7, which is Super Bowl Sunday. The event was originally scheduled to take place during Inauguration Week but was postponed by the organizers due to “the fluid nature of activities and regulatory measures tied to Washington, D.C.’s current State of Emergency affecting the region.”
According to data collected by the National Restaurant Association, Illinois, Michigan, and Washington are the only states in the nation to still have statewide bans on indoor dining. In California and Colorado, restrictions vary by county, with some allowing limited indoor dining and others outdoor only.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said last week that she wanted the city’s bars and restaurants to reopen for dine-in service as soon as possible, and urged Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) to lift statewide restrictions.
“I am very, very focused on getting our restaurants reopened. If we look at the various criteria that the state has set, we are meeting most if not all of those. So that’s a conversation that I will have with the governor,” Lightfoot said at a press conference. “But I want to get our restaurants and our bars reopened as quickly as possible.”