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States won’t collect LGBTQ data on COVID-19 — and advocates aren’t happy

D.C. only jurisdiction to report having SOGI demographic data

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coronavirus, gay news, Washington Blade
States won’t collect on data on whether COVID-19 patients are LGBTQ. (Image courtesy of the CDC)

Amid the coronavirus crisis, state health officials responsible for gathering data on COVID-19 are declining to collect and report whether or not patients identify as LGBTQ — a practice that angers LGBTQ advocates who say those answers could yield important information to combat the disease.

The lack of data, advocates say, will essentially blind the public to the coronavirus’ impact on LGBTQ people — a population that may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 — as the epidemic continues to rise and health officials warn the death toll in the United States will hit its peak in the coming weeks.

An estimated 100,000 to 240,000 Americans may die as a result of the coronavirus epidemic, U.S. government health advisers said this week.

The deputy director of the National LGBT Cancer Network, who goes by the name Scout and has a Ph.D. in sociomedical sciences from Columbia University, said the lack of data on the coronavirus’ impact on LGBTQ people reflects the absence of LGBTQ data collection in medical surveys writ large.

“The common phenomenon of not collecting LGBTQ health surveillance data hurts us in so many ways. Now it will hurt us by masking the impact of COVID-19 on our communities,” Scout said. “Considering an estimated 3.3 million of us use tobacco products, and therefore have a higher risk of negative outcomes if we get coronavirus, not collecting LGBTQ+ status in health surveillance data is horrible. We will mourn our losses but never be able to measure them.”

The Blade reached out to several states where the confirmed cases of coronavirus infection are at their highest and as of this week surpassed 5,000 cases, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Additionally, the Blade sought LGBTQ demographic information on the COVID-19 impact from jurisdictions local to the D.C. region and states that have had greater incident rates of COVID-19 cases.

The only jurisdiction to report having collected data on whether COVID-19 patients identify as LGBTQ was D.C,, where the department of health affirmed Tuesday to the Blade that process was underway.

“DC Health is collecting information about LGBTQ+ status of coronavirus patients,” said Alison Reeves, a D.C. Department of Health spokesperson. “However, that data is incomplete and will not be made public at this time.”

Harper Jean Tobin, director of policy for the National Center for Transgender Equality, said any reporting on COVID-19’s impact on LGBTQ people would likely be an undercount “due to the fast spread of the virus and the extraordinary shortcomings in the United States’ response to the pandemic.”

“Unfortunately, many of our pre-existing public health surveillance systems did not yet incorporate basic demographic data about LGBTQ people, and many health care institutions haven’t yet implemented this data collection in their patient record systems either,” Tobin said. “That’s inexcusable, but it’s also not likely we’ll be able to correct those deficiencies in the middle of a fast-moving global pandemic.”

Jurisdictions other than D.C. either didn’t respond to the Blade’s request to comment, or affirmed they didn’t collect data on whether coronavirus patients identify as LGBTQ.

In Michigan, where Detroit has become a new epicenter for the coronavirus epidemic, a spokesperson for the state department of health confirmed LGBTQ status of patients isn’t asked by health officials.

“That’s not something captured in the Michigan Disease Surveillance System where cases are reported, so we wouldn’t be able to determine that information,” said Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services didn’t respond to a follow-up email inquiry on why LGBTQ status isn’t collected in the state medical data system.

In New York, a spokesperson said the NY Department of Health is “not tracking COVID-19 cases by sexuality,” then when asked why that was the case referred the Blade to recent remarks from Gov. Andrew Cuomo on COVID-19.

“This virus does not discriminate,” Cuomo said. “It doesn’t discriminate by age. It doesn’t discriminate by party. It affects all Americans, and what you’re seeing in New York is going to spread across this country.”

Privacy issues around asking COVID-19 patients whether they identify as LGBTQ were cited by one state contacted by the Blade about LGBTQ demographics on the epidemic.

In Washington State — where the coronavirus spread early on the during the epidemic, but has since stabilized compared to other states — the state department of health affirmed it doesn’t collect data on whether coronavirus patients identify as LGBTQ.

Danielle Koenig, a Washington State Department of Health spokesperson, said, “We don’t have sexual orientation information on patients.” When asked why that was the case, Koenig replied, “We don’t publish more specific demographic data to protect patient privacy.”

Tobin sought to assuage concerns about privacy issues on collecting LGBTQ information in health surveys by saying state officials could keep it confidential and that information could be used to augment health care.

“Providers and our leaders need to make sure that everyone who needs help is getting it, and discrimination won’t be tolerated,” Tobin said. “Though it may take much longer than it should, we need to ensure going forward that LGBTQ-inclusive demographic data is included in all our health surveillance and electronic health record systems, that this information is voluntary and confidential, and that it’s used to improve access and quality of care.”

The departments of health for New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia didn’t respond to the Blade’s request to comment, and the California Department of Health referred the Blade to a page on its website showing the information state officials record for COVID-19. (It doesn’t include whether patients identify as LGBTQ.)

Emphasizing changing forms to include LGBTQ questions amid a pandemic may not be realistic, Tobin cited several examples for why they would have been useful, including finding out whether LGBTQ people have particular health vulnerabilities and the right way to tailor public health messages.

“The health care system runs on data,” Tobin said. “Collecting information in patient records helps promote honest communication between patients and staff to make sure their health needs and concerns are addressed. It helps us determine whether certain populations are seeking or receiving specific services at different rates, or having different outcomes.”

The lack of data collection on whether coronavirus patients identify as LGBTQ appears to be the result of a general practice as well as the official CDC form specific for COVID-19 data collection, which doesn’t include questions seeking to identify whether a patient is LGBTQ.

The CDC form seeks to obtain information on patients who tested positive for COVID-19 based on age, sex and ethnicity, but no where does it ask their sexual orientation.

For the query on sex, the form allows states to record the patient’s answer as “male,” “female,” “none,” or “other.” Although those options provide some flexibility to patients who are non-binary, it doesn’t explicitly seek to ascertain whether a COVID-19 patient is transgender.

The Centers for Disease Control didn’t respond to multiple requests from the Blade on whether it has information on COVID-19’s impact on LGBTQ people, nor why its data collection survey doesn’t ask patients if they identify as LGBTQ.

Tobin said she’s optimistic about seeing more LGBTQ demographic data in health surveys in the future, but recognized the current reality.

“For now, we know that the virus doesn’t care about gender, but that having physical vulnerabilities, a high-risk job, no paid leave, smoking, lacking safe housing, or living in an institutional setting (such as a shelter, jail, or nursing home) all put you at greater risk,” Tobin said. “Trans people, on average, are more likely to experience each one of these risk factors.”

States and the CDC aren’t collecting data on whether COVID-19 patients identify as LGBTQ despite a recent joint letter declaring LGBTQ people would be vulnerable to the epidemic.

More than 150 advocates warned LGBTQ people would be disproportionately affected by the coronavirus because they smoke and suffer from cancer at higher rates; have high reported rates of discrimination in the health care system; and are disproportionately affected by HIV/AIDS.

(However, Dr. Susan Henn, chief medical officer for the D.C.-based Whitman-Walker Health, has told the Blade for people with well-managed HIV, the increased risk would only be “very slight.”)

The letter takes note ensuring “surveillance efforts capture sexual orientation and gender identity as part of routine demographics” would be a crucial goal to achieve in serving LGBTQ people during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Dr. Scott Nass, president of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality and a Palm Springs, Calif.-based family physician, said LGBTQ advocates will continue to beat the drum for LGBTQ inclusion in health surveys despite states declining to do that during the coronavirus crisis.

“GLMA has long advocated for data collection inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity as central to ensuring the health and well-being of LGBTQ people,” Nass said. “Given the potential risk factors for LGBTQ individuals, inclusive data collection at federal and state levels may reveal important and life-saving data about the coronavirus and LGBTQ people and that’s exactly why GLMA, the National LGBTQ Cancer Network and more than 150 organizations called for data inclusion in our open letter on COVID-19 and LGBTQ communities.”

Data collection for LGBTQ people in health surveys, however, does exist in a limited fashion as a result of a move announced by the Obama administration in 2011.

The Department of Health & Human Services added a question on sexual orientation to the National Health Interview Survey, the principal source of information on the health of the U.S. population. Although the administration was sluggish to add questions on transgender status, the Obama administration eventually allowed states to ask both sexual orientation and gender identity questions on the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, or BRFSS, if they so choose.

Scout said allowing states to include the LGBTQ questions on health surveys “has actually proven unexpectedly strong as political winds shifted” and now around 35 states made the inquiry on BRFSS, but “that’s still not full U.S. data.”

“Collecting SOGI data on electronic health records is rare as hens teeth,” Scout said. “This leaves us with all of our health issues masked for anything that is reliant on real time or end stage disease reporting (save HIV which has a separate system). Thus, in a time like today, we will only be able to measure which LGBTQ people had COVID years after the fact through self-report of people who have survived and happen to live in a state that collects SOGI on their BRFSS, and then only if BRFSS coordinators decide to add a COVID question.”

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Coronavirus

D.C. mayor to lift all restrictions on bars, nightclubs on June 11

‘We will definitely be celebrating Pride’ next month

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Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Monday that she will fully lift capacity and other restrictions on most businesses, including restaurants and places of worship, on May 21. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced at a news conference on Monday that a continuing trend of significantly lower numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths in the city has enabled her to fully lift capacity and other restrictions on most businesses, including restaurants and places of worship, on May 21.

The mayor said bars and nightclubs will be allowed to increase indoor capacity from the current 25 percent to 50 percent on May 21, with all capacity restrictions for bars and nightclubs to be removed on June 11.

The mayor’s announcement came after representatives of the city’s nightlife businesses, including the city’s gay bars and restaurants, expressed concern that D.C. had yet to lift its capacity restrictions beyond 25 percent while surrounding jurisdictions in Maryland and Virginia had already lifted most restrictions.

“On May 21, restrictions on public and commercial activity, including capacity limits, types of activities, and time restrictions, will be lifted,” the mayor’s directive says.

It says restrictions for bars and nightclubs would continue at a 50 percent capacity from May 21 through June 11. The directive says restrictions for large sports and entertainment venues would also continue from May 21 to June 11, which includes a requirement such events apply for a waiver of the restrictions on a case-by-case basis.

“On June 11, capacity limits and restrictions will be lifted on those venues that cannot fully reopen on May 21,” the directive says.

In response to a question at the news conference, Bowser said the June 11 date would essentially end all restrictions on nightclubs and bars, including the current requirement that they close at midnight rather than the pre-epidemic closing times of 2 a.m. on weekdays and 3 a.m. on weekends.

In a development that could have a major impact on plans for D.C.’s LGBTQ Pride events, the mayor’s revised health directive announced on Monday includes the lifting of all capacity restrictions on large outdoor and indoor sports and entertainment events beginning on June 11.

That change would remove restrictions that have, up until now, prevented D.C.’s Capital Pride Alliance from holding its annual Pride Parade and Festival in June during Pride Month.

Capital Pride Executive Director Ryan Bos told the Washington Blade shortly after the mayor’s announcement that Capital Pride is assessing its options for expanding its current plans for in-person events in June.

“We will definitely be celebrating Pride in June,” Bos said. “We just received this information as well. So, we will be getting further information,” he said. “We have not been informed that they will be issuing any permits yet, so at this time we are moving forward with our original plans for doing things.”

Bos was referring to a city requirement for obtaining permits for street closings and use of other public spaces for events such as a parade or street festival. He said existing plans, among other things, call for an informal parade of cars and other vehicles on June 12 that will drive throughout the city to view homes and businesses that will be decorated with Pride displays such as signs, photos, and other symbols of Pride.

Those familiar with the city’s past Pride events don’t think there will be enough time for Capital Pride to organize the traditional large parade and street festival in time for June. But Capital Pride officials have talked about holding a possible parade and festival in October, and the lifting of the capacity restrictions announced by Bowser on Monday would likely make that possible.

In addition to lifting all capacity restrictions on May 21 for restaurants, the mayor’s May 21 timeframe for lifting restrictions includes these additional venues and events:

  • Weddings and special events
  • Business meetings and seated conventions
  • Places of worship
  • Non-essential retail
  • Personal services
  • Private at-home gatherings
  • Libraries, museums, galleries
  • Recreation Centers
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Pools
  • Office space
  • Schools
  • Childcare

“We’re very pleased that over the last several days, we have seen our case spread, our community spread numbers, venture out of the red into the yellow and fast approaching the green,” Bowser said in referring to a health department chart that shows the changes in coronavirus cases in the city.

“You might remember that our daily case rate peaked in January at 45.9. And today you can see it’s down to 6.6,” she said at her news conference on Monday.

“Throughout this process I have said how proud I am of D.C. residents and businesses who have responded, who have followed health guidance and have worked together to help protect our community throughout the pandemic. And we see it in these numbers today,” she said.

“Containing the virus will continue to require all of us to be focused on maintaining a robust health system,” the mayor said, adding that while over 200,000 D.C. residents have been fully vaccinated since December 2020, “many more thousands” still need to be vaccinated. “Vaccines are free and available on demand at walk-up sites across the District,” she said.

The mayor also noted that the city will continue to require residents and visitors to use a mask in accordance with existing and updated guidance set by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mark Lee, coordinator of the D.C. Nightlife Council, an association that represents restaurants, bars, nightclubs and other entertainment venues, said the mayor’s directive on May 10 leaves some details to be addressed but will open the way to bring nightlife businesses back to life.

“What we do know is that on Friday, May 21, businesses begin returning to normal operations and, three weeks later, on June 11, all restrictions for all businesses in the District will end,” Lee said. “It’s a day we’ve long awaited and one that will save much of our community enterprise from financial ruin.”

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Coronavirus

DC residents with HIV eligible for COVID vaccine

Mayor announces expanded eligibility as vaccine supply increases

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COVID-19 vaccine, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Feb. 24 that D.C. residents between the ages of 16 to 24 who have one of 19 pre-existing medical conditions, including HIV, will now be eligible to make an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The mayor and D.C. Department of Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said the appointments could be made through the city’s special site, vaccinate.dc.gov, beginning Thursday and Friday, Feb. 25 and 26. The vaccinations themselves for the expanded group of residents, including people with HIV, would begin March 1, the mayor said in an announcement.

Abby Fenton, a spokesperson for Whitman-Walker Health, the D.C. community health center that provides services to the LGBTQ community and people with HIV, said Whitman-Walker has begun contacting its HIV patients about the availability of the COVID vaccine for them.

“We are urging people to try to make an appointment with the city because we have such a limited supply,” Fenton said. She said Whitman-Walker is dispensing the vaccine for those who the city determines are eligible at its medical center locations at 1425 14th Street, N.W., and at its Max Robinson Center at 2301 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., S.E.

Michael Kharfen, the DOH official in charge of the city’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration, said the limited supplies of the COVID vaccine that the city has been receiving from the federal government has prevented the allocation of vaccine supplies to community health centers like Whitman-Walker until a few weeks ago.

He said supplies of the vaccine have increased in recent weeks and the Department of Health was hopeful that it will be able to provide additional supplies of the vaccine to community health centers and other facilities and health care providers.

Kharfen noted that the city has been increasing the availability of the vaccine to different groups of residents in stages as supplies have increased. Front line medical workers and nursing home residents were the first to receive the vaccine. The most recent group to become eligible prior to the mayor’s most recent expansion this week were people 65 years of age and older.

The mayor’s announcement on Feb. 24 listed these pre-existing medical conditions, including HIV, that would make city residents between the ages of 16 and 64 eligible for the COVID vaccine:

Asthma, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), and other Chronic Lung Disease; Bone Marrow and Solid Organ Transplantation; Cancer; Cerebrovascular Disease; Chronic Kidney Disease; Congenital Heart Disease; Diabetes Mellitus; Heart Conditions, such as Heart Failure, Coronary Artery Disease, or Cardiomyopathies; HIV; Hypertension; Immunocompromised State; Inherited Metabolic Disorders; Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; Liver Disease; Neurologic Conditions; Obesity, BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2; Pregnancy; Severe Genetic Disorders; Sickle Cell Disease; and Thalassemia.

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Coronavirus

D.C. gay bars struggling to stay open in pandemic

Mayor’s new rule banning liquor sales after 10 p.m. called ‘devastating’

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gay bar, gay news, Washington Blade
Nellie’s Sports Bar (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

John Guggenmos, co-owner of the D.C. gay bars Number 9 and Trade, says he and his business partners support Mayor Muriel Bowser’s efforts to keep people safe as the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 continues to rise in the city.

But Guggenmos and other gay bar owners say the mayor’s most recent order requiring bars and restaurants to stop serving alcoholic beverages after 10 p.m. has had a devastating impact on what had already been a major decline in business since the COVID restrictions were put in place earlier this year.

“We see hope on the horizon,” Guggenmos said. “But for many places it’s just going to be too late. It is sad because even if I am in a position that we can weather this storm better, if other places in the neighborhood don’t, then we all suffer.”

Exterior of Trade, which is working to serve customers amid new 10 p.m. cutoff for alcohol sales. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

David Perruzza, owner of the Adams Morgan gay sports bar Pitchers and its adjoining lesbian bar A League of Her Own, said gay bar customers traditionally come out to the clubs after 9 p.m. and often remain there several hours later.

Under the mayor’s current Phase II rules for addressing the COVID health emergency all restaurants and bars must close at midnight, two hours earlier than the pre-epidemic closing time of 2 a.m. during the week and three hours sooner than the normal 3 a.m. closing time on weekends. That restriction by itself has resulted in a significant drop in revenue for bars and nightclubs, including LGBTQ clubs, officials with the clubs have said.

The new restriction put in place last month banning liquor sales after 10 p.m. allows bars and restaurants to continue to stay open until midnight. But Guggenmos, Perruzza and other bar owners say few if any customers would likely come in to order non-alcoholic beverages. Thus they and nearly all of the city’s bar and restaurant owners have decided to close at 10 p.m. until the restrictions are lifted, a development that has further curtailed their businesses.

“I’ve had the worst two weekends of my life at the bar,” said Perruzza in referring to the weekends following the ban on liquor sales after 10 p.m. “I can’t sustain a business this way,” he said.

Pitchers (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the D.C. Department of Health, has said city inspectors have found that more violations of the COVID-related health restrictions at restaurants and bars, such as social distancing and mask wearing, were occurring after 10 p.m. as patrons consumed more alcohol. But nightlife advocates have disputed claims that riskier behavior occurs after 10 p.m. They say there are no studies or data to back up those claims.

Perruzza said he understands that while the mayor’s intention is to curtail the spread of the coronavirus he believes the 10 p.m. cutoff on alcohol service will result in large numbers of bar customers going to private parties in people’s homes where there will be fewer safeguards to curtail the virus.

“By her doing this she is going to push people to have more house parties,” Perruzza said. “At least if they’re in a restaurant or bar they’re in a controlled environment where they take their temperature. They make sure everything is sanitized after people leave,” Perruzza said. “People are not required to wear masks when they go to house parties.”

Prior to the start of the pandemic, D.C. was home to at least 15 gay bars or nightclubs in which the clientele was largely LGBTQ. A number of other D.C. bars and nightclubs are considered LGBTQ friendly, according to gay D.C. nightlife advocate Mark Lee, who said those additional establishments have a significant LGBTQ clientele.

In March, Bowser issued her initial emergency health order requiring all “non-essential” businesses, including bars and restaurants, to temporarily close their indoor operations to customers in an effort to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Carryout food and drink orders were allowed, and some of the gay clubs joined other bars and restaurants in putting in place a take-out order business.

A short time later, the DC Eagle, the city’s longest continuously operating gay bar, announced it was permanently closing. The Eagle’s majority owner filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy following longstanding financial problems, but many of the Eagle’s customers believe the pandemic played some role in the permanent shutdown.

At the same time, the popular LGBTQ nightclub Ziegfeld’s-Secrets closed its doors indefinitely after the owner of the building where it was located in the city’s Buzzard’s Point area invoked its longstanding plan to demolish the building to make way for a new condominium and retail development. Ziegfeld’s-Secrets manager Steve Delurba said the club would like to reopen in a new location but efforts to reopen would have to wait until all COVID-19 restrictions on such establishments were lifted.

Among the city’s remaining 13 LGBTQ bars and clubs, all but one has reopened after the mayor put in place the city’s Phase II business reopening plan in June, which allowed bars, restaurants, and other businesses to resume limited indoor operations.

The Fireplace, a gay bar at 2161 P St., N.W. near Dupont Circle, decided to remain closed rather than operate under the COVID restrictions but “definitely” plans to reopen, according Larry Ray, a longtime customer who said he spoke with one of the owners.

Among the other Phase II restrictions for bars, restaurants and nightclubs put in place by Bowser in the spring was the requirement that such establishments must operate at 50 percent of their normal indoor capacity, all patrons must be seated at tables spaced six feet apart, and at least three food items must be served that are prepared on the premises regardless of whether the establishment was exempt from serving food prior to the pandemic. The Phase II order also bans the establishments from offering live entertainment.

Two weeks ago, when the mayor issued her updated order banning the serving of alcoholic beverages after 10 p.m. at bars and restaurants, she also included in the order a reduction in the capacity of customers from 50 percent to 25 percent based on concern that the number of COVID-19 cases was rising in D.C. after the case number had gone down in the spring and summer.

Perruzza told the Blade that due to the Phase II social distancing requirements and the spacing of tables and the ban on allowing customers to stand except to walk in and out and go to the bathroom, Pitchers and his adjoining bar A League of Her Own were never able to reach a 50 percent capacity. At most, he said, he was able to reach a 33 percent capacity, which now must be reduced to 25 percent.

Meanwhile, the D.C. gay bar Dirty Goose at 913 U St., N.W. is among the establishments hit with a fine for allegedly violating the Phase II food serving requirement. According to a report in the Washington City Paper, an inspector from the city’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration on Nov. 27 cited Dirty Goose for serving only cookies as a food item, saying it failed to provide at least two other types of food such as popcorn or brownies instead of just cookies.

Co-owner Justin Parker told City Paper he plans to contest the citation on grounds that the establishment serves multiple types of cookies that are prepared on the premises and that the different types should be accepted as different food types. He said that ABRA inspectors came to Dirty Goose six or seven times in November prior to citing him for the food violation and found his establishment to be in full compliance with all of the COVID related requirements.

On its Facebook page the Dirty Goose announced on Nov. 10 that it had voluntarily closed its doors after one of its employees tested positive for COVID and out of caution it would remain closed until all remaining employees were tested. On Nov. 15 it announced “we have received all our employees test results and we are ready to reopen,” which happened less than a week later.

In a Nov. 25 Facebook message, Dirty Goose conveyed what appears to be the sentiment shared by the other LGBTQ bar owners and operators.

“First, we would like to thank all of our wonderful family of patrons who have kept us going since May,” the message says. “What a crazy 8 months it’s been!” After announcing the Dirty Goose would be closing at 10 p.m. each day due to the mayor’s order banning alcohol sales after that hour, the message added, “We look forward to continue serving all of you and please know we are continuously following the safety requirements set by the DOH and the safety of our staff and patrons remains our main priority.”

Dirty Goose was recently fined for allegedly violating rules about serving three kinds of food to remain open. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Lee, the longtime D.C. nightlife advocate who served as director of the D.C. Nightlife Council before being furloughed, said the 10 p.m. cutoff for the sale of liquor at bars and restaurants will be especially harmful coming with all the other restrictions.

“The most maddening aspect of Mayor Bowser suddenly halting all alcohol consumption after 10 p.m. at local bars, restaurants, and nightclubs operating in full compliance with public safety protocols and highly restricted service limitations is that there is no actual data or evidence-based rationale for this financially devastating roll-back curfew,” Lee told the Blade.

“This arbitrary edict jeopardizes the survival of hospitality establishments by causing them to lose the major portion of revenue they had been able to generate,” he said. “We’re getting reports that this decision is costing operators up to 60 percent or more of the little money they were making, leaving most with no choice other than to shut down two hours earlier rather than attempt to now serve only food items and non-alcoholic beverages until midnight,” Lee said.

Lee noted that at a press conference on Dec. 7, Bowser acknowledged that nightlife establishments, including restaurants and bars, have done an exemplary job of complying with health requirements and providing a safe space for patrons and employees.

At that press conference the mayor also said she looks forward to being able to lift all restrictions on businesses once the COVID vaccine becomes widely available. But she said that with a resurgence of COVID cases in D.C. in recent weeks along with the rise in cases in the surrounding suburbs the city could be forced once again to order the complete shutdown of indoor operations of businesses like restaurants and bars if the local COVID situation worsens.

Perruzza, Guggenmos and Doug Schantz, owner of the gay sports bar Nellie’s at 900 U St., N.W., each said their establishments and others like them serve as a place where LGBTQ people can go to be themselves, which many are unable to do at work, school, or even at home in some situations.

“At some point safe human interactions are what people are craving,” said Guggenmos. “You see someone on the street and how they desperately just want that interaction again,” he said. “If we could do that safely, why not?”

D.C.’s LGBTQ Bars/Restaurants

Nellie’s Sports Bar
900 U Street, N.W.
202-332-6355

Uproar
639 Florida Ave., N.W.
202-462-4464

The Dirty Goose
913 U Street, N.W.

JR.’s
1519 17th Street, N.W.
202-328-0090

Windows/DIK Bar
Upper floor at Dupont Italian Kitchen
1637 17th Street, N.W.
202-328-0100

Annie’s Paramount Steakhouse restaurant/bar
1609 17th Street, N.W.
202-232-0395

Larry’s Lounge
1840 18th Street, N.W.
202-483-1483

Pitchers/League of Her Own
2317 18th Street, N.W.
202-733-2558

Duplex Diner
2004 18th Street, N.W.
202-265-7828

The Fireplace
2161 P Street, N.W.
202-293-1293
[Temporarily closed during pandemic]

Number Nine
1435 P Street, N.W.
202-986-0999

Trade
1410 14th Street, N.W.
202-986-1094

Green Lantern
1335 Green Court, N.W.
202-347-4533

D.C. LGBTQ-friendly Bars/Clubs

Dacha Beer Garden
1600 7th Street, N.W.
202-350-9888

9:30 Club
815 V Street, N.W.
202-265-0930

DC 9 Nightclub
1940 9th Street, N.W.
202-483-5000

Dito’s Bar
Lower floor at Floriana Restaurant
1602 17th Street, N.W.
202-667-5937

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)
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