Updated Jan 29, 2022 to add a timeline
On Friday afternoon, DC officially suspended the liquor license of H Street neighborhood burger bar, The Big Board, for multiple violations of legal requirements regarding masking of staff and checking for proof of vaccination in a 9 day period.
The ABC Board issued a summary suspension of their liquor license (meaning there was no hearing); the bar can request a hearing within 3 days, in which the case the hearing should be held next week.
The bar appears to be still open serving food and soft drinks (which it legally can do) but not serving alcohol (BYOB not permitted).
In Phase 2, almost 20 DC bars or restaurants were issued a similar summary suspension. Most settled with the Government and were eventually suspended 15 days, though this increased later in Phase 2 to 30-40 days.
- May 10, 2021: Mayor Bowser announces that virtually all restrictions on businesses and restaurants/bars will be lifted on May 21st, with the exception of the mask mandate indoors only. Certain types of nightclubs and bars continue to be restricted at 50% capacity until June 11.
- May 11, 2021: The Big Board (TBB) posts to its social media accounts the #ReOpenDC logo and the message:
- “As a Big Board patron over the last year you know how seriously we’ve taken covid guidelines & restrictions. With majority of U.S. residents having vax access, including our staff, we fully support the 100% reversal of restrictions to pre covid levels! We believe its the right thing to do & trust our patrons to make the right choices of when to dine with us or stay home! … We encourage other restaurants and businesses to post similar support for reopening!”
- May 13, 2021: CDC updates its guidance to state that fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear a mask or physically/socially distance indoors or outdoors.
- May 17, 2021: DC lifts indoor mask mandate in most situations (technically for fully vaccinated only).
- May 21, 2021: Virtually all restrictions on businesses and restaurants/bars lifted, with the exception of 50% capacity in certain types of nightclubs and bars.
- June 11, 2021: All restrictions on DC businesses lifted.
- July 27, 2021: CDC updates it guidance (due to “rapid and alarming rise” in cases/hospitalizations, and the increased infectiousness/transmissibility of Delta, even with vaccinated) to now recommend everyone (including fully vaccinated) in areas of substantial or high transmission (roughly over 50/cases daily for DC) to wear a mask in public indoor places.
- July 29, 2021: DC announces that the indoor mask mandate is reinstated.
- July 31, 2021: The DC indoor mask mandate is reinstated. Because of the trickiness of enforcing mask mandates on customers when people can stand, eat, drink, the ABRA regulations require only that staff are masked at all times when indoors and that patrons wear a mask when entering.
- August 3, 2021: NYC announces that it will be the first US city to require at least one vaccine for indoor dining and other indoor venues, effective August 16th. San Francisco follows the next week (New Orleans and Honolulu also do, but allows negative test)
- October 6, 2021: Los Angeles announces vaccine requirement effective November 8, 2021.
- November 16, 2021: Mayor Bowser announces that the indoor mask mandate will be ending in most places (though DC is still in the range of cases where CDC still recommends universal masking)
- November 21, 2021: The DC indoor mask mandate is lifted.
- December 2, 2021: DC Health issues indoor mask advisory.
- December 13, 2021: Philadelphia announces vaccine requirement effective January 3rd, with no test out option January 17th
- December 20, 2021: Mayor Bowser announces reinstatement of the DC indoor mask mandate. Boston announces vaccine requirement effective January 15th.
- December 21, 2021: The DC indoor mask mandate is reinstated. Chicago announces vaccine requirement effective January 3rd.
- December 22, 2021: Mayor Bowser announces that DC will be imposing a citywide vaccine entry requirement for indoor dining, gyms, and other indoor venues, effective January 15th.
- January 13, 2022: The Supreme Court effectively blocks the Federal Government (OSHA) from requiring vaccinations (or tests) for all employees of companies with 100 or more employees, ruling that OSHA lacked the statutory authority to issue the mandate. Justice Gorsuch’s concurrence makes clear that “states and local governments” are not prohibited from issuing vaccine mandates, as they “possess considerable power to regulate public health.”
- January 13, 2022: The Big Board posts on Twitter (not on Facebook or Instagram):
- “There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk “his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor” on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else… Stranger in a Strange Land”
- “As has always been the case for us, everyone is welcome. This rule applies yesterday, today and tomorrow. Hopefully we’ll see you January 16th.”
- January 14, 2022: ABRA investigator visits The Big Board and speaks to the owner who says “repeatedly told her that the establishment would not comply with the vaccination requirements.” ABRA issues a verbal warning because staff not wearing masks
- January 15, 2022: Vaccine requirement goes into effect. ABRA visits The Big Board, observing staff not wearing masks, patrons entering not wearing masks, no one verifying vaccination status, and no sign posted about vaccine requirements. The Big Board’s owner, in response to a statement that masks are required to be worn by staff, states “Until the Mayor change[s] her mind on the orders, I am not going to change mine.” ABRA issues 1) written warning for the mask issues and a 2) verbal warning for failure to check for vax proof.
- January 18, 2022: ABRA visits The Big Board and fines it $1,000 for not following mask requirements and issues a written warning for not checking for vax proof.
- January 19, 2022: Daily Caller reporter Henry Rodgers starts GoFundMe (after friend jokingly suggests that they should start one) for bar that as of Jan 29th has raised $17,000
- January 20, 2022: ABRA visits The Big Board and fines it $1,000 for not following mask and vaccine requirements
- January 21, 2022: Department of Health finds The Big Board not in compliance with the mask and vaccine requirements.
- January 22, 2022: ABRA again visits The Big Board and finds them not in compliance with the mask and vaccine requirements. It sends the results of their investigation to the ABC Board for further review.
- January 26, 2022: The ABC Board votes to issue a summary suspension of The Big Board’s liquor license without a hearing.
- January 28, 2022: After the Office of Attorney General drafts a notice of summary suspension, the Board signs it and it is issued at 4pm, suspending their license immediately. The Big Board continues to serve food, but no alcohol is allowed to be sold, served, or consumed.
- The ABC Board said that The Big Board’s “operations … present an imminent danger to the health and safety of the public” due to its “repeated non-compliance” with 3 Mayor’s orders and the ABRA regulations that were amended in accordance with those orders. The Board said that The Big Board’s “violations represent a method of operation that places the public in imminent danger to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The repeated occurrence of the establishment’s violations and failure, unwillingness or disobedience by the owner and the establishment’s employees to comply or require compliance further exacerbates the imminent danger to the health and safety of the public.”
- February 2, 2022: Deadline for The Big Board to request a hearing with the ABC Board.
- February 4, 2022: The last day a hearing would be held if a timely request was made.