The pause will go into effect Wednesday, Dec. 23 at 10 p.m. and will last until Jan. 15 at 5 a.m.
The mayor's office also announced a number of other restrictions it would put in place to slow the novel coronavirus, including:
- Museums will close
- Libraries will close indoor service; patrons will still be able to pick up or drop off materials
- The Department of Recreation may only offer reservations for individual and fitness room sessions
- Non-essential businesses must telework, except in-person staff needed to support minimum business operations
- The D.C. Circulator National Mall route is suspended
The announcement arrived after a number of sources tipped of FOX 5 to the move.
Prior to the announcement, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) sent a letter to restaurants warning them of the possible indoor dining ban.
However, until a release was sent to FOX 5 late Friday evening, there had been no official word from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Indoor and outdoor dining is currently allowed within D.C. at a reduced capacity. Other areas in the DMV have tried to make the move toward banning indoor dining, such as Anne Arundel County, but have been met with pushback and lawsuits from the community.
Restaurant owners in the District say they are devastated at the possibility of more restrictions on indoor dining as D.C. already restricted indoor dining to 25% capacity earlier this week.
Eric Heidenberger, a partner of the DC Restaurant Group, said the news of the potential ban was upsetting, especially for his staff right before the holidays. He says he understands the difficulty in making decisions like this but wishes he had more communication from city staff.
"We would like to hear more directly from the mayor," Heidenberger says. "I don’t think there’s been a lot of communication to restaurant operators. We’re asking to be included in conversations. We’re going to have to adjust orders, reservations, we’re going to have to let people know that we can’t serve them indoors. There’s a lot of things that we have to have information in order to be able to properly inform our staff."
The ban comes at a difficult time for D.C. restaurants as many have spent time and money winterizing for outdoor dining. The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration reminding businesses Thursday in a tweet that those spaces can't be used in inclement weather or when the temperature falls below 32 degrees.
"It’s painful and it’s not ideal," says RAMW President Kathy Hollinger. "We’re going into a time of year when people want to be in restaurants. They want to celebrate. They want to have their holidays there. So this has really been very challenging."
FOX 5 has reached out to the mayor's office about the potential ban but has received no official word yet.