DC moves toward reopening with plans to lift most coronavirus restrictions on May 21

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced the city’s plans to lift most capacity and other coronavirus restrictions on businesses May 21, following numerous pleas for clarity from local businesses and residents.

Capacity limits for bars, nightclubs, large sports arenas and entertainment venues will be increased to 50 percent on that date and then lifted June 11. Masks will still be required indoors.

Why: Bowser cited improving health metrics, noting the District’s seven-day average of new daily coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents is 6.6, an improvement from the upward of 40 cases seen over the winter.

As vaccinations have increased and cases have declined, local business owners have been calling on Bowser to loosen what they called unnecessarily stringent restrictions.

Current restrictions: Indoor dining has been capped at 25 percent capacity, and Bowser just recently allowed multipurpose venues to open at 50 percent, as of May 1.

Nonessential retail was increased to 50 percent capacity, and restaurants were given permission to seat 10 people per table — up from six — and host live music outside in gardens, courtyards and sidewalk cafes.

Weddings, conferences and other special events were allowed to operate indoors and outdoors, but only up to 250 people.

Footloose ban update: A recent order that banned guests at weddings from standing or dancing and drew national attention and mockery will be lifted on May 21.