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County Still Working on Reopening Plan

Arlington County continues to prepare for the initial phases of a reopening, with some details still up in the air.

The first phase of a reopening is at least a week and a half away for Arlington and Northern Virginia. Questions remain as to how the county might make changes to roads, parking and local regulations to promote social distancing while also supporting struggling businesses.

D.C., for instance, is considering local legislation that would “let District restaurants apply for street closures to allow for more space for outdoor dining, or otherwise expand sidewalk cafes,” the Washington Business Journal reports. Just over 80% of respondents to an unscientific ARLnow poll last month, meanwhile, said they supported the idea of temporarily closing roads for extra pedestrian space and/or expanded sidewalk cafes during the pandemic.

The county has created temporary restaurant pick-up zones from metered parking spaces, but has so far declined to close streets to traffic, citing the difficulty of ensuring safety.

Asked again whether Arlington is working on any plans like D.C.’s, to close streets to expand outdoor dining areas, a county spokeswoman said only that reopening plans are still in the works.

“As we prepare to transition into ‘Phase One,’ the County is working intently to develop guidelines and protocols related to the gradual easing of restrictions on businesses,” wrote Jennifer K. Smith. “A primary goal is to address any potential for regulatory flexibility in a way that not only ensures safe environments, but also supports Arlington businesses, including restaurants and bars.”

Photo via Arlington County

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