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Arlington Urging Restaurants to Close Dining Rooms

(Updated at 9 p.m.) More than 80% of respondents to our poll this morning think Arlington restaurants should close for everything other than takeout or delivery.

Arlington County’s top officials agree.

Monday night, the county sent out a statement acknowledging that while it does not have the legal authority to force closures, it is urging restaurants to “take responsible action and switch from dine-in service to only offering carryout and delivery.”

The full statement is below.

States across the Country, including DC and Maryland have ordered all bars and restaurants to close for dine-in service as of 10:00 P.M.tonight (March 16). Arlington County does not have the legal authority to order the same.  However, we ask that Arlington bars and restaurants take responsible action and switch from dine-in service to only offering carryout and delivery. We have seen some restaurants get very creative with how to do carryout with social distancing. Encouraging carryout service is a good way to help these small businesses and their staffs make it through this challenging time.

We thank all those that have already done so, but we plead with all our bars and restaurants that have NOT yet closed their dining rooms; to do so as of 10:00 PM tonight (March 16) and not reopen until we can all work out safe ways for patrons to be served in person. Otherwise, we will likely be overwhelmed by COVID-19 cases and the health of everyone in Arlington will be in jeopardy.

We appreciate your partnership in keeping our community safe.

Libby Garvey. Arlington Board Chair
Mark Schwartz. Arlington County Manager

Among the restaurants in Arlington to close completely or offer takeout and delivery only are Ireland’s Four Courts, Jaleo, and — just announced tonight — The Liberty Tavern, Lyon Hall, and Northside Social.

It’s unclear how long local restaurants will be able to survive on takeout and delivery alone. Delivery apps take a large percentage of sales, while alcohol sales to dine-in customers make up a sizable portion of a restaurant’s profit margin.

Some are predicting an apocalyptic outcome.

“Many of the restaurants that close during the pandemic will not reopen their doors,” predicted an Eater article today. “Diners should also brace for a restaurant landscape that will be entirely different by the time — however near or far off it may be — they can be safely encouraged to enjoy a crowded night out again.”

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