With D.C.’s restrictions lifted, will people ‘just hang out’ indoors?

Now that D.C. has dropped its capacity restrictions in most businesses, and lifted many mask restrictions, people in the nation’s capital can do something they haven’t be able to since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020 — just hang out, indoors.

Early Friday morning at a Starbucks in Dupont Circle, one man drank his coffee and ate his bagel on the patio, despite D.C’s declaration that restaurants no longer had restrictions on social distancing indoors.

“I don’t think they’ve opened any tables inside, otherwise I might be indoors,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to go inside again, without any reservations.”

Nearby, a woman sipping a drink while reading a book said she’s embraced the chance to spend more time outdoors.

“I’ve been doing this during the pandemic, having some time to myself, so it’s been nice to have outdoor spaces,” she said.

Now, despite the opportunity to freely lounge indoors, she expects that won’t happen right away.

“It’ll definitely be traumatic to go inside a little bit, since I think all of us are kind of used to being afraid of being indoors,” she said, expecting people will be more comfortable with the notion at their own pace.

Masks do still need to be worn on public transportation and in health care settings. They also are required at schools, both indoors and outdoors at sporting events, and in homeless shelters and correctional facilities.

In a social setting: “I think a lot of people are going to continue to just mask up, because they’re going to follow the guidance and be really interested in following the science.”

Realizing her mask will be required in certain settings, she will need keep it handy: “I have it in my pocket right now, so I guess that’s probably what I’ll keep doing.”

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Bars and restaurants are feeling out their own pace of reopening, just like residents.

While most have dropped the need for reservations and are allowing people to walk up and sit at the actual bar to order drinks, capacity limits and masking still vary.

The Pug D.C., a boxing-themed bar in Northeast, plans on limiting capacity as its fully masked staff gets comfortable being around crowds again. Masks are optional for fully vaccinated patrons, and are requested for those who are not yet inoculated against COVID-19.

Showtime Lounge, which sits just south of Howard University, are following those same masking rules but are doing away with capacity limits, unless they feel the bar gets too crowded. Showtime is also taking names for contact tracing purposes and hopes to have bands and DJs return over the next month.

For DC9 in the U St. Corridor, the nightclub is waiting until June 11 to fully uncork the fun. It will limit capacity for its roof, parklet and first floor until then, and is requiring that customers mask for the time being as well.

In Adams Morgan, The Blaguard Irish pub will allow guest to move around as they wish on the first floor, but will limit its second floor Cafe de Blag to reservations only.

If you’re looking to rage — restaurant style —  look no further than Baan Siam in Mount Vernon Triangle. The fully vaccinated staff is ready to serve patrons along with its fully reopened bar, though it will keep its limited hours for the time being.

WTOP’s Matthew Delaney contributed to this report.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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