Arlington’s Public Health Division has reversed course and will now allow restaurants to have “dog friendly” outdoor dining areas. As recently as November, the health department was reminding restaurants that no pets — except for service animals — were allowed in any dining area, inside or outside.
Now, restaurants can apply for a variance that would allow dogs in outdoor dining areas.
“Restaurants that wish to allow dogs in their outdoor dining areas now have an administrative process they can initiate to request a code variance,” Arlington’s Public Health Director, Reuben Varghese, said in a statement. “To receive a variance, a restaurant will have to comply with a set of safeguards designed to minimize risks to the dining public.”
“The change is in response to community requests,” the health department said in a press release. “With proper safeguards, restaurants can protect their customers’ health and safety in the presence of dogs.”
“Safeguards include requiring dogs to be leashed and not allowing them on seats and tables, restricting food and drink preparation from the outside dining area, and requiring signs to inform diners they are in a ‘Dog Friendly Area,’” said the press release. “Compliance would be evaluated as part of the routine restaurant inspection process.”
Photo via Arlington County
The stickers were mailed out on Nov. 26 as part of an ongoing Arlington health department initiative to remind restaurants that it’s against county code for animals to be in “areas where food is prepared, cooked or served,” according to Arlington County Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick.
Restaurants are not required to post the stickers, but a number of eateries, like Sawatdee Thai (2250 Clarendon Blvd), pictured, have already displayed them prominently for customers entering the establishment.
Larrick says the “no pets” rule applies to sidewalk cafes, too.
“The code applies to indoor and outdoor settings,” he said. “With the growth in outdoor dining in the County over the last year or so it seemed like a timely reminder. We started work on the signs this summer but it just took a while to get them done.”
The stickers note, however, that service animals, like seeing eye dogs, are exempt from the regulations. As for why your favorite fluffy friend is a no-no at restaurants, Larrick says it comes down to health concerns.
“The presence of animals would create a risk of people getting sick due to fecal contamination,” he said.
30th Anniversary of Air Florida Crash — Thirty years ago today Air Florida Flight 90 took off from Reagan National Airport, slammed into the 14th Street Bridge and plunged into the icy Potomac River, killing 78 people. Only five people on the plane survived the crash. [Wikipedia, Washington Post]
Bondi Releases Statement on Tax Lien — County Board candidate Melissa Bondi has released a statement to supporters regarding the recent revelation of her tax troubles. “Blog commenters very recently have begun attacking me about two issues,” Bondi began. “The attacks have been sudden, nasty, highly personal, and intended to derail the excellent work we have done together as a campaign.” Bondi said that she has hired a tax advisor “to get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible.”
Il Radicchio Back Open After Sewage Backup — Il Radicchio (1801 Clarendon Blvd) closed temporarily on Jan. 3 due to a sewage backup, according to public records. The Italian restaurant reopened on Jan. 6. [Washington Post]
Seller’s Market in Arlington — Only 0.5 percent of all homes in Arlington were listed for sale late last year — a statistic that is a likely indicator of stiff competition between home buyers. [Washington Times]
Flickr pool photo by Divaknevil
With temperatures in the 60s this week, it may seem too early to worry about fighting off sickness this winter. Already, though, illnesses are popping up around the area. That should be the perfect reminder to go out and get a vaccine now that flu season is in full swing.
Flu season continues into the spring, and although shots are effective no matter when they’re administered, it’s better to get one early in the season. This is especially true considering the vaccine will typically take a week or two to kick in.
Flu shots gained popularity in Arlington during the H1N1 scare, and county officials are pleased with the number of people continuing to get vaccinated. Although it’s difficult to predict so early in the season, thus far there are no indicators to suggest a flu outbreak like we’ve seen in recent years. The county also reports there is ample supply of this year’s flu vaccine. It protects against three different strains of influenza, including H1N1.
“The best way to prevent the flu is to get vaccinated,” said Arlington County Department of Human Services spokesman Kurt Larrick. “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone six months of age and older should get an annual flu vaccine.”
“Residents can get vaccinated at doctor’s offices, many retail stores throughout the County and at special community clinics offered through Partnerships for a Healthier Arlington and Inova Health Systems,” Larrick continued. “At these community clinics you can get the entire family vaccinated, and the vaccine is free for older adults with Medicare Part B.”
If not covered by insurance, flu shots typically go for about $30.
Prevention, Larrick added, should also be part of any flu season strategy.
“It’s also important to cover coughs and sneezes, wash hands frequently and stay home when sick,” he said.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
The County Board is expected to vote in October on a request to advertise an ordinance change that would no longer require massage therapists to obtain a permit from the county’s health department. Instead, local massage therapists will only have to be certified by the state.
Arlington County’s massage regulation started decades ago, in response to a proliferation of prostitution operations masquerading as massage parlors. County officials say those days are largely past, and its time to look at massage therapists in a new light.
“The whole field of massage has evolved and changed incredibly in the past couple of decades, such that there are a lot of very legitimate medical practitioners out there using massage for all kinds of health reasons,” Deputy County Manager Marsha Allgeier told ARLnow.com. “In a way, it’s kind of an archaic law that we’re getting rid of… the old way of looking at massage therapists really does have to change.”
Allgeier said that the Arlington County Police department, not the health department, will be responsible for making sure that massage businesses — like the recently-opened Arlington Physical Center on Columbia Pike — are on the up and up.
“If there are illegal activities going on — that is, prostitution — that it needs to be treated as a police matter,” Allgeier said. “That’s the way to deal with the illegal activity that’s going on, not by requiring all massage professionals to go through an unnecessary… bureaucratic licensure process.”
Current regulations require massage practitioners to apply for a county Massage Therapist Permit by submitting a form, a $50 fee, a massage school diploma or certificate, two passport size photos, a Virginia massage therapist certificate and an FBI record check including fingerprints.
In September, the Board voted to hike the license fee from $100 to $285, in response to a mandate from the Virginia Department of Health. Earlier this year, state authorities reversed themselves and decided to slash the statewide fee — which is administered by localities — to just $40. The Board must now approve the change for Arlington.
The $40 fee will apply to license applications and renewals for both restaurants and mobile food vendors. In addition to the license fee change, the cost of reviewing plans for new or remodeled food establishments will drop from $200 to $40 if approved by the Board, as expected.
County staff is recommending that the fees be modified “on an emergency basis” so that the change can take effect immediately.
Arlington’s health department is responsible for licensing and inspecting restaurants in the county. The department is funded cooperatively by the state, which sets the fees for licensing and other services.
Arlington’s Community Health Protection Bureau is looking for a volunteer with marketing or communications experience “to partner with a community-based coalition working to address underage binge drinking and drug use in Arlington County.”
Responsibilities include working with a team to develop program image; developing marketing plan; and creating various promotional materials such as pamphlets, brochures, and press releases.
Desired qualifications include: communications/marketing experience, excellent organizational skills, attention to detail and accuracy, good interpersonal skills, and proficiency in Microsoft Office (Word, Publisher, PowerPoint). This is a great opportunity for someone looking to expand their portfolio and work with a community group.
This is a Virtual Volunteer position. The volunteer will need to meet with the program team periodically and communicate on a regular basis via e-mail and phone. All work can be done off-site.
See more details here. Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to contact Margaret Ostafin at 703-228-5659.
The county issued a short statement to ARLnow.com last night confirming they’re “currently investigating reports of gastrointestinal (GI) illness at a long-term care facility.”
Citing “confidentiality rules,” a Department of Human Services spokesman refused to identify the facility. A source, however, tells us the facility is the Sunrise at Bluemont Park (5910 Wilson Blvd) senior living community.
The source says paramedics were called to the building on Wednesday. Medics then called the health department.
“We have not yet identified the cause of the illness; however, it is not uncommon to have GI illness due to Norovirus this time of year,” DHS spokesman Kurt Larrick said. “We are working with the facility on ways to control the spread of illness.”
The county said members of the public can help stop the spread of Norovirus and other gastrointestinal illnesses by washing one’s hands frequently with warm water and soap for 20 seconds and by staying at home if you feel sick.
“Please postpone visiting an assisted living facility, nursing home or hospital” if you’re sick and “keep your sick children home from school,” the county advised.
A review of health violations by the Washington Examiner revealed that every food court vendor in each mall has been cited for one or more “critical health violations.”
Signs of roach or rodent infestation were found in sixteen food court vendors, the Examiner reports. Subway and Texas BBQ Factory get the dubious distinction of being cited for infestation in both Ballston and Pentagon City.
To see the health violations for yourself, click here then search for “4238 Wilson Blvd” (Ballston Common Mall) or “1100 S Hayes St” (Pentagon City mall). The search box is in the upper left-hand corner.
Flickr photo by Daquella Manera.