DC bars demanding to be given equal consideration for outdoor service

Bars in the District won't be able to open until at least Stage Three of the city's reopening if Mayor Muriel Bowser accepts recommendations from the ReOpen DC committee, yet many are lobbying to be allowed to open outdoor spaces by May 29 just as restaurants are allowed.

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D.C. hasn't specifically defined restaurant, which according to the reopening guidelines would be able to open outdoor spaces for socially-distanced dining during Stage One.

Bar owners says the confusing guidelines have led them to believe they may not have a chance at survival.

Alcohol licenses are issued in several categories including restaurants, nightclubs and taverns, yet business owners say it's unclear if taverns will be considered restaurants for Stage One.

"Right now the way that the recommendations are set up it makes no sense," said Amber Bursick, co-owner of DC9 on 9th Street Northwest.


Bowser's office said more clarity on what constitutes a restaurant will come in orders that spell out Stage One on Wednesday.

It is also unclear if a restaurant or bar would be able to use rooftop outdoor space in Stage One.

Several bars tell FOX 5 they have plans to open outdoor space safely and should be given the same chance to put those plans into action as traditional restaurants.

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"We're asking for the same impartial treatment, yes, if we can open safely we'd love to use the back area. We have our policies and standards in place to be ready to open safely just like the restaurants in Phase 1," said John Guggenmos, owner of Logan Circle bars Trade and Number Nine.

"This becomes a matter of survival for a lot of the industry. If we aren't allowed the opportunity to open under Phase 1 many of the places just won't survive," said Guggenmos.

The D.C. Nightlife Council said in part in a statement, "We ask Mayor Bowser to let all venues re-open under the exact same rules at the same time and safely serve all guests."


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