She then extended the rule for a week so restaurants wouldn’t attract tourists to the presidential inauguration, which she discouraged visitors and residents from attending.
On Thursday morning, Bowser said some government-operated activities included in that “holiday pause” — indoor use of public libraries and the D.C. Circulator’s route on the Mall — would stay on hiatus indefinitely. But restaurants can reopen, as long as they fill no more than 25 percent of their seats at a time. The city also announced Thursday evening that museums can resume visits with a maximum of 250 guests per floor.
The mayor encouraged residents to peruse sit-down and takeout offerings during next week’s Restaurant Week promotion.
The city’s rules governing when it’s safe to resume certain activities are based on a set of 10 metrics, which have red, yellow and green levels. Red indicates the city should be in Phase 1, meaning some activities (including indoor dining) are unavailable. Yellow indicates Phase 2.
The city entered Phase 2 in June, and even as metrics have slid into the red zone, Bowser has indicated no desire to change phases.
The daily case rate has been in the red zone — meaning an average of more than 15 new cases per 100,000 residents each day — since November. On Thursday, it was deep in the red at 36.7, although below the record set 10 days earlier. One other metric also was red: the percentage of patients in the city’s hospitals who have covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“We remain squarely in Phase 2,” Bowser said at a news conference Thursday. “We were taking advantage over the holiday, where we know that there could be more travel and gathering, to recommend less of that with this pause. And we extended that through the inauguration. And those things are over.”
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) said Thursday he would not lift his county’s ban on indoor dining, saying infection rates are too high.
“We have fallen from peaks of 500, but we are not where we need to be,” he said. “If we would all just be patient, we can get our cases down.”
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) and state Schools Superintendent Karen B. Salmon on Thursday called for students across the state to be back in classrooms no later than March 1. Salmon and Hogan urged in-person instruction for students with special needs and at least hybrid instruction with some in-person schooling for elementary school students.
The call comes three days after K-12 teachers in Maryland became eligible to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, although the rollout of the program has been spotty.
Jurisdictions across the Washington region on Thursday continued to hone their coronavirus vaccination programs.
Dozens of Montgomery County residents who are ineligible for the vaccine under current guidelines tried to receive the vaccine Wednesday and Thursday, officials said. The individuals, which included elderly residents and teachers, managed to make appointments by accessing the state’s vaccine registration link, which officials suspect was leaked by health-care providers. They were turned away after being vetted by county employees, said Health Officer Travis Gayles.
Montgomery’s head of emergency management, Earl Stoddard, said those who have leaked the registration link did “a great disservice” to the community by complicating efforts to quickly inoculate the county’s top-priority group.
“By sharing it with individuals who don’t fit that criteria, it takes appointments away from those who do,” Gayles said.
Stoddard said he believes some residents filled out the form in good faith, but others were “unscrupulously” attempting to jump the line. “We have no tolerance for that type of behavior,” he said.
In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) acknowledged Thursday while visiting a vaccination facility for teachers and law enforcement officers outside Richmond that the rollout was off to a slow start.
“It was clear a couple of weeks ago to me that we were not moving expeditiously enough in the commonwealth of Virginia,” he said.
Northam said the state is administering nearly 20,000 doses daily, although it ultimately hopes to give 50,000 doses each day. He said that won’t be reached until the federal government increases supply.
Northam said his office was in contact with President Biden’s pandemic team Wednesday, adding that he is hopeful the vaccine supply will begin to increase in the next few weeks.
“It is reassuring to know that we have a new partner in Washington,” Northam said. The state’s efforts will also get a boost when National Guard members are able to pitch in after having been assigned to help protect against “the chaos in Washington.”
Hogan said he spoke directly with Biden and the head of his coronavirus task force, adding that he expects an announcement in coming days about boosting supply and distribution. In the meantime, Hogan said Maryland is expanding who is eligible for the vaccine and which providers can distribute it.
“Biden has promised to try to ramp up the delivery to the states, and we’re trying to build the infrastructure so that they can get more needles in,” Hogan said.
The governor said he plans to move the state Monday into Phase 1C, although it wasn’t clear that providers in all jurisdictions can accommodate the next phase. Several localities have been unable to vaccinate people in Phase 1B, which started this week.
The new phase will make about 1.5 million Maryland residents eligible for the vaccine — including health-care workers, people age 65 and over, K-12 teachers, first responders, people in nursing homes and group homes for the developmentally disabled, and incarcerated people at high risk of complications.
The state has received about 500,000 doses, and Hogan acknowledged that many people in the current phase cannot get appointments.
In the District, Bowser announced Thursday that Sibley Memorial Hospital will set up on-site vaccination clinics at the 14 public housing sites for senior citizens operated by the city’s housing agency. The city also will open two new batches of vaccine appointments on its website each week.
At 9 a.m. each Thursday, appointments will open to residents of Zip codes that have had higher caseloads but fewer registrations for vaccines. Every Friday at 9 a.m., appointments will open to all eligible D.C. residents and workers.
Those appointments continue to be snatched up quickly — on Thursday, the latest round was filled within a half-hour.
The District reported 209 new infections and one virus-related death Thursday. Maryland reported 2,166 cases and 46 deaths, and Virginia reported 4,013 cases and 79 deaths.