Arlington and Northern Virginia are expected to begin a phased reopening on Friday.
“That’s the plan,” Gov. Ralph Northam said of the partial reopening during a Tuesday afternoon press conference. The region will be joining much of the rest of the state, which started its “Phase 1” reopening on May 15.
The first phase of the reopening will see non-essential businesses — salons, barber shops, restaurants, gyms, etc. — reopen with additional cleaning, safety precautions and social distancing. Among Virginia’s Phase 1 guidelines are:
- “Retail establishments may operate at 50% capacity”
- “Restaurant and beverage establishments may offer outdoor dining at 50% occupancy”
- “Personal grooming services may operate with one patron per service provider”
- “Fitness centers may offer outdoor exercise services”
In a letter to Northam sent over the holiday weekend, Northern Virginia leaders wrote that four key health metrics were pointing in a positive direction, making a reopening possible. Northam said today that statewide numbers were likewise looking good, though he emphasized that the coronavirus is continuing to infect people, making it necessary to continue taking steps to mitigate the spread.
“The virus is clearly still here, but the numbers are trending in the right direction,” Northam said.
The governor announced Tuesday that masks will be made mandatory in indoor public spaces, including businesses, starting Friday. The state’s mask requirement will have some exceptions, including for eating, children under 10, and those with health conditions that prevent them from wearing a mask.
“Science shows us that the virus spreads less easily when wearing a face covering,” Northam said. “I’m asking people to do the right thing, to respect one another.”
Enforcement of the mask requirement will done by the Virginia Dept. of Health, not police, the governor said.
“This is not a criminal matter… it won’t be enforced by law enforcement,” he said. Northam’s chief of staff said having police enforce the mask requirement could cause “tremendous equity issues,” adding that the governor is hoping that a special session of the General Assembly over the summer could approve a civil fine for noncompliance.
The state health department will have the ability to take action against “grossly negligent actors” — businesses that refuse to enforce the requirement. First would come a warning, then the state health department could seek a court order to rescind the business license.
Northam said the universal wearing of masks protects everyone, including workers, who “are especially vulnerable.” A mask could be something as simple as a bandana or “a piece of cloth and some rubber bands,” the governor said.
Arlington County is planning to distribute free masks in the coming weeks.
The efficacy of wearing masks was discussed by Virginia Hospital Center emergency room chief Mike Silverman, in a public Facebook post on Friday.
“We follow the CDC guidelines at work with masking both parties (provider/RN and patients when they can) and we’ve had a remarkably low rate of staff getting sick. Masks work… and work better when everyone is wearing them,” Silverman write. “Be smart. Social distance. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. And stay inside and away from others if you’re sick.”
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The Arlington-Aachen High School exchange is returning this summer and currently accepting applicants.
The sister-city partnership started in 1993 by the Arlington Sister Cities Association, which seeks to promote Arlington’s international profile through a variety of exchanges in education, commerce, culture and the arts. The exchange, scheduled June 17th to July 4th, includes a two-week homestay in Aachen plus three days in Berlin. Knowledge of the German language is not required for the trip.
Former participants have this to say:
_”The Aachen exchange was an eye-opening experience where I was fully immersed in the life of a German student. I loved biking through the countryside to Belgium, having gelato and picnics in the town square, and hanging out with my German host student’s friends. My first time out of the country, the Aachen exchange taught me to keep an open mind, because you never know what could be a life changing experience.” – Kelly M._
Learn about the new assessment of Arlington’s urban tree canopy and the many ecological and social benefits trees provide. Staff from the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) will share study results and compare canopy cover for different areas of Arlington.The webinar will include assessments of ecosystem services such as stormwater mitigation, air quality, carbon uptake, and urban heat islands. For background on Arlington trees see the “Tree Benefits: Growing Arlington’s Urban Forest” presentation at http://www.gicinc.org/PDFs/Presentation_TreeBenefits_Arlington.pdf.
Please register in advance to assure your place at the webinar, https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/29543206508863839.
About the Arlington County Civic Federation: The Arlington County Civic Federation (“ACCF”) is a not-for-profit corporation which provides a forum for civic groups to discuss, debate, inform, advocate and provide oversight on important community issues, on a non-partisan basis. Its members include over ninety civic groups representing a broad cross-section of the community. Communications, resolutions and feedback are regularly provided to the Arlington County Government.
The next meeting is on Tuesday, February 21,2023 at 7 pm. This meeting is open to the public and will be hybrid, in-person and virtually through Zoom. Part of the agenda will be a discussion and vote on a resolution “To Restore Public Confidence in Arlington County’s Governance”. For more information on ACCF and this meeting, go to https://www.civfed.org/.
Valentine gifts for someone special or for yourself are here at George Mason University from noon -4pm on February 14, 2023. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Kingsbury Chocolates, find a handmade bag from Karina Gaull, pick up treats from Village