Health Care

DC preparing to move forward on reopening, lift additional restrictions

Washington, D.C., is set to loosen more of its coronavirus-related restrictions next week, Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced Wednesday.

Bowser said the city has seen 13 days of sustained decrease in community spread of the virus, and if the infection rate continues to decline, new guidelines for phase 2 could take effect as early as Friday. 

A final announcement will come then, Bowser said. The District of Columbia is close to hitting the metric of 14 days of declining community spread, and has already met the metrics concerning hospital capacity and a sustained low positivity rate.  

Washington is still short of meeting its contact tracing metrics, but “we are trending in the right direction,” Bowser said.

The city has hired 200 contact tracers and wants an additional 100 by June 30, she said. D.C. has also been able to contact 90 percent of new positive cases within one day of being notified.

However, health officials said it was still too early to tell if there has been any uptick in cases stemming from the citywide protests over police violence following the death of George Floyd when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. 

When asked if she thought it was too early to move to the next phase before knowing the results, Bowser said, “We always have the ability to turn up or turn down our reopening.”

To date, no state or city has moved backwards after reopening, but some have paused after seeing a spike in cases. 

Under the new phase of reopening, restaurants will be open for indoor dining, but can only seat up to 50 percent capacity at physically distanced tables.

Gatherings of up to 50 people will be permitted, except for houses of worship, which will have a limit of 100. The city recommends against choirs and singing, but did not ban them.

Gyms, health clubs and studios will also be allowed to reopen, with certain capacity and spacing restrictions. Playgrounds and fields will be open for “casual play,” but no permits will be issued for league sports.

Theaters, cinemas and entertainment venues will still be closed, but Bowser said the city will consider a waiver for them to hold specific events.

Bowser cautioned that just because more of the city is reopening does not mean the virus has been contained. It is still spreading, and she said the public should act as if they could catch if from anyone at anytime. Masks are still required in public and in businesses, and physical distancing is encouraged.  

Tags Coronavirus economy reopening Muriel Bowser Washington D.C. Washington, D.C.

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