DC walks back parts of Phase 2 coronavirus reopening

The District is walking back some activities it had previously allowed under Phase 2 of its coronavirus reopening plan as COVID cases continue to grow.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said at a news conference Monday that the “interventions” are part of an effort to “blunt the curve” as the D.C. region heads into the winter months.

Starting Wednesday:

  • Outdoor gatherings will be limited to 25 people, down from 50.
  • Indoor gatherings will be limited to 10 people.
  • Restaurants can stay open until midnight, but alcohol sales, service and drinking (excluding carryout and delivery) must end at 10 p.m.
  • For houses of worship, indoor capacity is reduced from 100 people to 50 people — or capacity is reduced from 50% to 25%, whichever number is lower.
  • Gyms, private trainers, and other businesses and recreation centers must suspend all indoor group exercise classes and all outdoor group exercise classes of 25 or more people.
  • D.C.’s live entertainment pilot is temporarily suspended (entities previously granted a waiver for the live entertainment pilot will be contacted about their ability to proceed with acts or performances that have already been booked).
  • Nonessential businesses are encouraged to continue telework/remote work.

On Dec. 14, the maximum indoor capacity for restaurants will be cut in half, from 50% to 25%.

“These changes are meant to flatten the curve, help us reserve hospital beds for the most in-need of care and keep our community safe during this nationwide surge,” Bowser said.

She added that the reason capacity limits for restaurants aren’t going into effect until Dec. 14 is to want to give eateries some ability to adjust their operations.

As for why alcohol sales have to end by 10 p.m., Bowser said the city sees “less compliance” the later it gets.

“We can tell you that we have been able to conduct a number of enforcement activities throughout our response for limited business operations. And we we see less compliance with the rules later into the evening,” she said.

When it comes to reissuing a stay-at-home order for D.C., Bowser said she doesn’t know if she’ll take that step.

“I don’t know. But I also don’t know how effective it is for one jurisdiction to have a stay-at-home order when the entire country is open. So I wouldn’t want to suggest to somebody that that is what will keep us safe without a national mandate to do the same,” the mayor said.

Bowser said guidance on sports and recreation will be issued.

The mayor’s complete situational report is available online.

Coronavirus vaccine

D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said a scientific advisory committee was created a couple months ago to assist with “effective strategies to communicate what we believe to be complex public health information about the COVID-19 vaccines that would assist us in the equitable distribution of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine.”

The committee is not responsible for developing vaccine plan in D.C., Nesbitt added, “that responsibility sits in the District’s Emergency Operations Center that the mayor established back in February.”

Instead, “the scientific advisory committee’s responsibility is ensuring that we have an effective approach to addressing any concerns or issues that the public has” regarding a vaccine.

Nesbitt said vaccine concerns range from worries that it might not be safe or effective to the speed at which it’s being developed.

“It’s one thing for me to talk about how I feel about the vaccine for it to be safe and effective. And it’s another thing for people who have a lot of credibility with the community to talk about it right,” she said.

“So we’ve been working very closely with members of the faith community, with health care providers who are not only experts in infectious disease, but who are experts, who are pediatricians, women’s health providers, who specialize in HIV care and cancer care.”

Check WTOP’s coronavirus vaccine FAQ.

DC coronavirus numbers

The District reported 139 new coronavirus cases Monday. The total number of cases is now 20,290.

There were also two new deaths. So far, 672 D.C. residents have died from the virus.

Track the District’s data online.

Below are maps of cases by ward and neighborhood.

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Will Vitka

William Vitka is a Digital Writer/Editor for WTOP.com. He's been in the news industry for over a decade. Before joining WTOP, he worked for CBS News, Stuff Magazine, The New York Post and wrote a variety of books—about a dozen of them, with more to come.

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