The ban on indoor dining in D.C. is set to take effect just before Christmas on Dec. 23, after a troubling surge in cases of COVID-19. Owners of affected restaurants have reacted with everything from understanding to frustration.
The founder of Chef Geoff’s in northwest D.C. said he was not surprised that Mayor Muriel Bowser had implemented the ban in the district this coming week.
“Indoor dining’s just not going to work when we have as many cases as we do in Washington, D.C. Hopefully we can flatten the curve a little bit, get things reopened, get the vaccine going,” Geoff Tracy said.
Until then, it will be a tough winter for bars and restaurants already struggling to survive. Tracy said fewer customers want to sit outside in the cold, even with accommodations such as heaters.
“Really things have been shifting to almost exclusively takeout and delivery. I’ve got one table on the patio right now at 3 o’clock in the middle of the afternoon. I’ve got a couple people sitting indoors,” Tracy said.
Some owners and restaurant associations have been pushing back on orders to ban indoor dining in Maryland, even going to court trying to have the restrictions overturned.
The head of Clyde’s Restaurant Group, John McDonnell, said that the data doesn’t support keeping customers out, and that he’ll have to lay off hundreds of workers.
“Four-hundred thousand hours of work with our employees and 600,000 customers, and not one case of COVID traced to our restaurant,” McDonnell said.
D.C. will suspend indoor dining starting Wednesday at 10 p.m. and will do so through Jan. 15.
The new order takes effect just before the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Although Tracy understands why the ban is being enforced, he said he would have liked more time to prepare, because the ban means cancelling reservations.
He also said he hopes Congress will pass a relief package that includes PPP loans, so his business and others will be able to survive without any more layoffs.