Limited indoor dining resumes for many DC-area bars and restaurants, Montgomery County’s ban remains in place

Being able to eat and drink inside even at capacity had many bars and restaurants in the D.C. region rejoicing Friday night.

That includes venues in Anne Arundel County, which opened for indoor dining at 50 percent capacity, and in Prince George’s County, where establishments can operate at 25 percent indoor capacity.

READ MORE: Anne Arundel County restaurant capacity to expand on Friday, exec says

Cassandra Wilkins and her friend were once again savoring the feeling of what it was like to cheers while sitting inside of a restaurant on a cold Friday night.

"This is home away from home and it’s good to be here with your friends," said Wilkins of Hillcrest Heights. 

Beginning February 1, bars and restaurants across Maryland will be able to stay open past 10 p.m.

READ MORE: Prince George’s County restoring indoor dining at 25% on Friday

"It’s a struggle, but I mean, if it wasn’t for our customers coming in with our carryouts, it’s been hard it’s been really hard but they have been keeping us afloat," said Antionette Carte, manager of Topolinos in Camp Springs.

While carryout, delivery and outdoor dining has been somewhat of a saving grace, some restaurant managers said they’ve got a long way to go before being able to make up for lost revenue.

"With having 25 percent of people versus 100 percent, we lose more than 50 percent of our sales but when people are inside you have more of an opportunity for more sales, an up-sale," said Christopher Arnold, executive chef at Infuse Restaurant in Camp Springs.

READ MORE: Montgomery County officials insistent on indoor dining ban

Meanwhile, in neighboring Montgomery County, a ban on indoor dining has been in place since mid-December. Something that county officials say has been working to help lower the rate of infections. 

"The cases are down 60 percent among restaurant workers who are still on the job since we closed indoor dining a stark of a difference and that obviously indicates it was the right decision," said Tom Hucker, Montogmery County Council Chair.

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Carter said she and many other restaurants are hoping to get to 50 percent indoor capacity by Valentine’s Day which many she said would be one of the busier days during the slower winter months pre-Covid 

"I feel like we are taking a step forward to getting back to normalcy," said Carter.