Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration

DC Agency Top Menu

-A +A
Bookmark and Share

Phase One | Reopen DC

As part of Phase One, select licensees may sell and serve alcoholic beverages for outdoor onsite consumption.

In addition to establishments being eligible to serve guests in outdoor spaces included on their alcohol license, they may request to add new and expanded outdoor seating in public and private space on ground or street level.

Available public space options include sidewalks, alleys, “streateries” (extended curb lane use), plazas, and full travel lanes.

Potential private space options include patios, courtyards, and surface parking lots. All new and expanded space must be on ground or street level.

All establishments requesting new and expanded outdoor space must register with the District. All public space requests must be approved by DC’s Department of Transportation. Requests to add outdoor seating on private space must include written approval from the property owner.

Establishments only wanting to serve guests on existing licensed sidewalk cafes and summer gardens, including rooftops, with no changes to their perimeter do not need to register and can open immediately.

Application Steps

Key Provisions


  • Select on-premises retailer licensees (Convention Center food and alcohol retailers, hotels, multipurpose facilities, nightclubs, private clubs, restaurants, and taverns), common carriers, and manufacturers with an on-site sales and consumption permit.

Service Hours

  • The selling and onsite consumption of alcohol and operating hours are limited to 8:00 a.m. to midnight, daily.

Food and Drink

  • Licensees must offer food menu at all times containing at least three (3) prepared food items and require the purchase of at least one (1) item per table. Licensees may partner with food operators. Self-service buffets and “BYOB” are prohibited.

Physical Distancing

  • All persons must be seated. Parties are limited to six (6) persons per table and tables must be at least six (6) feet apart.
  • Guests may be seated at bars. Parties must be at least six (6) feet apart from one another.
  • Bartenders may not staff or utilize bars where guests are seated.


  • ABC licensees are required to implement a reservation system to mitigate concentrated crowding. Reservations may be done online, by phone, or on-site—or a combination of all three.
  • Contact information for at least one (1) person of each party should be collected to assist with contact tracing by DC Health as needed.

Music and Entertainment

  • Activities that require patrons to be in close proximity such as dancing and darts are prohibited.
  • Background and recorded music may be played at a conversational level. Live music and entertainment is prohibited.

Related Resources