Health Care

DC could begin phased reopening May 29

Washington, D.C., could lift its stay-at-home order and begin a phased reopening of certain businesses as soon as May 29, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said Thursday.

Bowser said the city will be in a position to begin reopening certain businesses, with restrictions, if the spread of coronavirus continues to wane.

“It’s not an on and off switch. We will not be able to go back to life as we enjoyed it in February. But we are incrementally adding activities back in our lives, which we all miss and are all eager to get back to,” Bowser said.

Bowser said she will make her final decision Tuesday.

A report from a task force formed to advise Bowser on D.C.’s reopening recommended a four-phase approach, with the final phase being the “new normal.” The plan calls for no mass gatherings of more than 250 people until a vaccine or cure is available.

In the first phase, barbers and hair salons would be open by appointment only. Hotels would open with safeguards in place. 

Restaurants would be open for outdoor seating, but with physical distancing requirements in place and no parties greater than six. Customers will also be encouraged to provide their names and contact information and record their time of arrival. The task force recommended bars and nightclubs remain closed through the first two phases.

Nonessential retailers would be open for curbside pickup only. The city would open parks, fields, golf courses and tennis courts, but not playgrounds. Worship services would be capped at 10 people.

The group did not recommend reopening gyms, summer camps, pools or indoor entertainment venues in the first phase.  

Moving on from the first phase will require the city to boost its testing and contact tracing capacity. City officials said the rate of transmission and the testing positivity rate will dictate how quickly the city advances through the phases. 

Beginning to reopen on May 29 would put the city ahead of schedule. The current stay-at-home order had been extended until June 8. 

Bowser had said she wanted to see two weeks of declining cases before beginning to lift restrictions. Barring any unexpected spikes in cases the city could reach that in three days.

Tags Coronavirus Muriel Bowser reopening Washington D.C.

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