The order also shutters museums, libraries, and non-essential business.

With the holidays approaching and coronavirus cases on the rise, Mayor Muriel Bowser is pressing pause on business and dining in the District. Beginning on Wednesday, December 23, restaurants will not be allowed to serve customers indoors, museums must close and libraries must return to pick up service only for the next three weeks. The restrictions are part of an emergency order that will be in effect until March 31, 2021. Mayor Bowser is also ordering non-essential employees of businesses in the District to telework.

The order comes days after new restrictions lowered capacity to 25 percent and required bars and restaurants to close at midnight. Restaurants will still be able to offer outdoor dining, carry out, and delivery service. Most of the city’s museums, including those on the National Mall, closed before the Thanksgiving holiday. Libraries must close to visitors, only allowing drop-off and pickup of books and materials.

Mayor Bowser is also asking residents to stay home as much as possible, only leaving their homes for work, school, and to pick up essentials. As of December 20, 2021, D.C. had a total of 26,601 coronavirus cases and 737 deaths. The District is currently in yellow status, with a moderate level of community spread. The 7-day positive rate is still higher than it was in May, when a stay-at-home order was in effect.

The city is used to the Christmas slowdown, as Congress adjourns until the first week of January. This year, restaurants and bars have already nine months of restrictions and closures, pushing some businesses to the brink of bankruptcy. The city’s Bridge Fund recently added $35 million in grants for restaurants and $15 million for retail businesses. Businesses must apply to get funds no later than January 8, 2021.

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