The nation’s capital may start the second phase of its reopening plans on Monday, easing restrictions on public places and non-essential businesses after shutting down to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus, Washington, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced on Wednesday.
“We can continue our phased reopening, we think, if our trends continue, this Monday,” Bowser wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) June 17, 2020
“Our community can start thinking about what phase two of reopening looks like and get prepared,” she added during a press conference, citing a decline in community spread and sufficient health care capacity, among other metrics.
LIVE: Coronavirus situational update June 17. https://t.co/gzAgfCcnNy
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) June 17, 2020
She said she would make a final decision and announcement on Friday, but added that if the coronavirus data continue “trending in the right direction,” D.C. will launch phase two early next week.
Noting that the spread of the highly contagious and deadly COVID-19, the coronavirus disease, continues to slow, the mayor stressed the virus still poses a threat.
“We always have the ability to turn up or turn down our reopening,” the mayor proclaimed Monday. “This virus is not gone. It is still here. It is still spreading.”
Bowser credited the lockdown that began March 30, namely stay-home restrictions and social distancing, with helping D.C. avoid dire predictions by models that saw COVID-19 peaking in July and as many as 100,000 residents infected by the end of the year.
“We know that we have been able to blunt the curve in D.C.,” she said.
As of Thursday afternoon, coronavirus had infected nearly 10,000 people in the city and killed about 530, data from the mayor’s office showed.
Bowser highlighted the downward trend in coronavirus numbers early this week.
“We have been able to flatten our curve, and our cases continue to decline,” the mayor noted on Monday.
City officials acknowledged that, so far, the district’s testing expansion has not uncovered a surge in new cases in the wake of protests and riots following the death of George Floyd on May 25 while in Minneapolis police custody.
The capital has seen “no reversal in declining trends,” D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt proclaimed Monday.
Under phase two, the city will lift curbs on restaurants and non-essential businesses like stores and salons as well as outdoor recreation venues.
Bowser will officially relax curbs on indoor dining, houses of worship services, nail salons, and playgrounds, among other public places and private businesses, Bowser told reporters.
Under phase two, restaurants will operate at 50 percent capacity.
D.C. will also permit gatherings of up to 50 people. The mayor pointed out that there may be special waivers available for meetings of more than 50 people or specific activities like concerts.
Bowser explained that D.C. will cap attendance at houses of worship at 50 percent capacity or 100 attendees, whichever is fewer.
Referring to D.C.’s phase two, the local NBC 4 news outlet reported on Wednesday:
It’s recommended those at houses of worship forgo singing and passing items around. Nail salons and other personal service providers, such as tattoo parlors and tanning salons, can open to customers by appointment. Service stations must be six feet apart.
Gyms and fitness centers can open to 5 people per 1,000 square feet of space. Classes can be held with a 10-foot distance between participants. Other non-essential retailers can let customers inside, up to 50% capacity.
Summer camps can open to groups of 10 or fewer. Some more child care facilities will be staffed. You can also expect libraries to slowly begin the process of reopening. D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation pools can open for lessons and lap swimming, but not open swimming, at some point in phase two.
Bowser noted that the reopening of public pools would likely not happen until the middle of July, adding that the city is working on specific rules for private pools at apartments and elsewhere.
Moreover, the mayor indicated that theaters, cinemas, and concert venues would remain shut, but they can apply for the special waiver from the city.
“Colleges and universities can reopen if they have submitted a plan to the Office of Planning that has been developed in consultation with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education and D.C. Health,” the Patch news outlet added on Wednesday.
The district is still encouraging federal government workers to telework, but the city will allow some staff to work from their office space.
D.C. officials noted that face mask requirements remain in effect for grocery stores, public transit, and in places where social distancing is impossible. They also encouraged the public to continue practicing good hygiene, including handwashing regularly.
Most of the D.C. area, including places in Maryland and Virginia that border the district, has already begun phase two reopening, the local NBC News outlet noted.