WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - It’s official. The District of Columbia will enter phase one of the reopening process on Friday.
D.C. residents have been anticipating the announcement since last week, when Mayor Muriel Bowser outlined the three-phase reopening process for the city as it eases the restrictions put in place to stall the spread of COVID-19.
The virus has been confirmed in more than 8,000 District residents, and it has been blamed for nearly 450 deaths.
A weekend spike prompted fears of a prolonged delay to reopening, but on Tuesday, residents in the nation’s capital had cause for optimism when Bowser announced that for the first time in nearly two months, the District had gone 24 hours without registering a death attributed to the novel coronavirus.
On Wednesday, D.C. hit its target of 14 days with declining cases.
The mayor stressed that the virus is still a threat in the community - and that with more people moving throughout the District, testing will be essential.
The mayor noted that anyone who feels they need a test will be allowed to undergo testing. According to Bowser, the District has the capacity to test more than 5,500 people per day.
"The bottom line - and what we want to emphasize - is that this virus is still in our city, in our region, and in our country. We still need to be very focused on identifying who has COVID-19, who has been exposed to COVID-19, and making sure that those people isolate so that we can stop the spread of the virus in our city. Testing is how we do that. And we know that more people will be moving around. We want to emphasize that if you need a test, get a test," Bowser said.
Last week, the mayor – and the Reopen DC Advisory Committee, which is co-chaired by Susan Rice and Michael Chertoff – presented a blue print for phase one.
The committee recommended that the District enter stage one with the following benchmarks and guidelines in place:
- Declining virus transmission
- Key low-risk activities with strong safeguards
- Gatherings limited to 10 people
- Remote work still strongly encouraged
- Travel heavily discouraged
Phase one will include:
- Work from home strongly recommended
- Restaurants can open with outdoor seating, physical distancing and other safeguards. Tables must be six feet apart, and no more than six people can be seated at each table.
- Bars and nightclubs remain closed
- Non-essential retailers can provide curbside, front-door pickup, or delivery. Customers are still forbidden from entering the store proper.
- Barbershops and salons can reopen with strong safeguards and physical distancing (5 people per 1,000 feet). Do not go to the salon or barbershop if you are sick. Service is limited to one customer per stylist. Services are limited to hair services. Nail salons and similar establishments are still closed.
- Limited childcare opening
- Preschool K-12 and adult education will be conducted with distance learning only
- Higher education can be conducted with limited on campus activities
- Summer camps remain closed
- Select libraries can conduct limited curbside service
- Museums and exhibits will remain closed
- Places of worship would continue with virtual services or groups under 10 people
- Outdoor gatherings (parades, etc.) would remain shut down
- Indoor entertainment venues would remain closed
- Gyms and workout studios would remain closed
- Parks, fields, tennis courts, tracks and golf course will open on Friday. Playgrounds, public pools and recreation centers will remain closed. Contact sports are still forbidden.
- District opens additional in-person services with safeguards and expands virtual services with safeguards
- Non-essential shared transportation highly discouraged
- Public transit would meet demand and allow for physical distancing
Healthcare providers can offer outpatient services and procedures as long as they do not burden hospital capacity.
Click here to see D.C.’s plan for phases two and three.
Neighboring Maryland and Virginia announced that their respective states would largely reopen two weeks ago – however, the District and the suburban counties in those states were delayed due to disproportionately high COVID-19 case counts and other hurdles.
Prince George’s County in Maryland has announced that it plans on beginning the reopening process on June 1.
Northern Virginia told Governor Ralph Northam that it is on track to enter phase one of reopening along with the rest of the Commonwealth on Friday.