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Officials Say Arlington May Reopen in Mini-Phases

(Updated 5/18) Large portions of the state partially reopened today, but not Northern Virginia.

As the region moves closer to a potential reopening after Memorial Day, however, Arlington officials say residents should expect things to move slowly, and a bit unevenly.

Within the parks department, for instance, officials said in a virtual town hall today (Friday) that different facilities will be reopening at different stages of recovery.

While some trails in Arlington remain open to socially distant outdoor uses, Assistant County Manager Jim Schwartz said facilities like basketball and tennis courts will continue to be closed until at least May 29, the earliest that Northern Virginia is expected to join other parts of the Commonwealth in a phased reopening plan.

Schwartz also said that some facilities within the parks department could experience further delays in reopening.

“Recreation centers may be opened later,” Schwartz said. “Indoor activities have to be managed differently.”

The county has not reached a decision on whether or not to cancel summer camps, he added.

“We will be making a decision next week for upcoming summer camps,” Schwartz said. “Just about all of our regional partners have announced they are closing or not doing summer camps. We will make that decision next week.”

Dr. Reuben Varghese, the county’s Director of Public Health, said Arlington is bracing for a bump in coronavirus cases once the restrictions are lifted, regardless of warnings and advice offered by county health officials.

“We will be expecting a bump,” Varghese said. “I will be very happy to be wrong… but people will be having physical interactions within six feet.”

Officials asked the public not to rush into public interactions once the restrictions start easing off.

“Even though we’re all eager to get back to the things we love,” said County Board member Matt de Ferranti, “if we aren’t careful and play it safe we can put people at risk.”

The video of the hour-long town virtual hall is below.

Staff photo by Jay Westcott

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