Out of an abundance of caution, mayors and governors across the country are closing up shop, literally. The coronavirus is spreading more quickly than many of us anticipated, and the time for social distancing is now.
It's no exception here in the nation's capital. Washington, D.C.'s Mayor Muriel Bowser announced new sweeping restrictions across the district over the weekend. In the immediate future, she explained, restaurants will not be permitted to seat more than six people at a table; tables, including booths, must be six feet apart, and restaurants can't serve people who are standing.
But the Hill Restaurant Group has other plans. In a new statement this weekend, the entity announced that it was going to operate as normal and encouraged its competitors to do the same.
Not everyone is following @MayorBowser's restrictions on restaurants and bars. Hill Restaurant Group owns Hawk 'n' Dove, Lola's, Willie's Sports bar, among other establishments. From the District Industry Facebook group: pic.twitter.com/yJQg26wxOz— Jessica Sidman (@jsidman) March 16, 2020
The mayor measured her response, but she's clearly peeved.
Hill Restaurant Group —— Muriel Bowser (@MurielBowser) March 16, 2020
While I recognize that all of us have been stressed beyond our immediate understanding of how coronavirus has so quickly upended our daily lives and personal and business existence — you must comply with the DC Health notice.
"We all have an obligation to do our part to contain the spread of this global pandemic and get to the business of recovery as soon as possible," she added. "Until then, your compliance is required, and we will exercise the full force of our MPD, FEMS, DC Health and ABRA....and the emergency authority to achieve it. Meanwhile, I hope your patrons will encourage you to modify your operations at the soonest, to consider grab & go and delivery options in your food serving establishments."
The Hill Restaurant Group oversees seven restaurants in the district, including Finn's, Hawk' n' Dove, Tortuga, Lola's, Willie's, Ophelia's Fish House and Orchid.
"You can't put the burden on small businesses," Hill Restaurant Group managing partner Tom Johnson told NBC Washington. "That's ridiculous. We won't comply. Let her shut us down. You might as well shut us down. It's absolutely ridiculous. People are going to do what people do."
But D.C. residents appear to be largely siding with the local officials and are planning to boycott Hill Restaurant Group in the future.
As an ANC Commissioner, I have repeatedly supported liquor license renewals for the Hill Restaurant Group. That support stops now. Pulling my support b/c Tom Johnson is refusing to comply with @MayorBowser direction to reduce seating and therein limit spread of #coronavirus. https://t.co/cYAMacVHHP— Denise Rucker Krepp (@kdrkrepp) March 16, 2020
Dear Hill Restaurant Group,— Carly Pildis (@CarlyPildis) March 16, 2020
I won't be eating at your establishments again. I'll be eating with Sunnyside Group, who has been providing free food to kids while schools are closed instead.
Former Hawk n Dove Bar Patron
Whelp, will certainly never be eating at any place owned or operated by Hill Restaurant Group. Can't trust them to have adequate safety standards after choosing to ignore the Pandemic Quarantine.— Dan (@Dfiz14) March 16, 2020
If they won't take THIS seriously how seriously can the take normal standards?
In addition to the tighter guidelines for diners, Bowser demanded all nightclubs be shuttered for the time being.