Arlington, VA

With cabin fever setting in after weeks of mostly staying at home, large crowds gathered yesterday, on Cinco de Mayo, to pick up to-go tacos, margaritas and other Mexican fare at restaurants across Arlington.

Among the popular spots: Uncle Julio’s in Ballston, District Taco in Rosslyn, Guapo’s in Shirlington, and TTT and Don Tito in Clarendon. For some, it was a welcome boost for some local businesses. For others, it was an unnecessary danger.

“What a nightmare,” one social media user said.

While some worried about an increased coronavirus risk, those who gathered did so outdoors and appeared to be mostly keeping the recommended six-foot distance from one another, while many wore masks. It was a bit of a different story in D.C., as more crowded conditions on sidewalks prompted police responses.

More photos of the Arlington crowds via social media:

Photo courtesy John B.

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) Arlington County Police are now on scene of a big traffic jam on Columbia Pike reportedly caused by a food giveaway.

Initial reports suggest that the Mega Market Express, at 5001 Columbia Pike in the Pike Plaza shopping center, is giving away hundreds of meals as part of a promotion announced on Facebook. Police were not informed of the giveaway in advance, according to scanner traffic.

A large crowd has gathered around the store and Columbia Pike is jammed with traffic in both directions. Streets approaching the Pike like S. Dinwiddie Street are also at a standstill.

“This is absolutely insane,” said ARLnow staff photographer Jay Westcott, after arriving on scene. “No one is practicing social distancing.”

Officers are working to spread out the crowd and get traffic moving again. As of 5 p.m., the store had closed and was beginning to hand out certificates to let people pick up their giveaway items at a later time, according to scanner traffic.

Arlington’s emergency alert system is encouraging people to avoid the area.

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(Updated at 9:25 a.m.) Metrorail riders, especially those heading toward D.C. on the Orange/Silver line, are experiencing major crowding due to an incident in the District overnight.

Two trains, neither of which were carrying passengers, collided near the Foggy Bottom and Farragut West Metro stations around 1 a.m. Both train operators were injured.

An investigation into the crash has prompted single-tracking past the scene, leading to major delays during the Monday morning commute. Trains on the Orange, Blue and Silver lines are only running every 15 minutes, while the Silver Line is only running between the Wiehle-Reston East and Ballston stations.

Significant crowding has been reported at the East Falls Church and Ballston stations in Arlington. The cost of Uber and Lyft rides has also reportedly spiked.

“Consider alternate travel options,” Metro said via Twitter. The investigation is expected to continue for most of the day.

More via social media and the Unsuck DC Metro Twitter account:

https://twitter.com/mathewsjh/status/1181182610212556800

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Arlington police are urging residents to stay vigilant for any suspicious activity at large outdoor events this summer.

While the department stressed that there are “no known threats” to the county specifically, police also said in a news release that people can “help protect our community by reporting suspicious activity to police for investigation,” particularly at large gatherings.

Police say “shopping centers, restaurant districts, religious services and public transportation hubs” are examples of places where people should keep their eyes peeled for anything out of the ordinary.

“While we share everyday moments with our neighbors, family, coworkers and friends, we all have routines that are uniquely our own, making you most well-acquainted with what activities may be suspicious in your neighborhood and communities,” the department wrote.

Anyone with a concern can report it to the police non-emergency line at 703-558-2222 or online using this form.

File photo

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Saturday’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, hosted by Comedy Central personalities Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert helped Metro set a Saturday ridership record with 825,437 Metrorail trips taken.

But while setting the record may sound like a positive development for the beleaguered Metro system, those who actually took Metrorail before and after the rally told tales of overcrowded trains and stations.

It was so bad after the rally that some local residents decided to return to Arlington on foot rather than brave the “zoo” at the Metro stations near the mall.

To give you an idea of how crowded it was, check out this video from the Rosslyn Metro station before the rally.

Flickr pool photo by Christaki

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The new Nordstrom Rack in Pentagon City opened its doors this morning to a large crowd eager to get their hands on some fashion bargains.

After the store opened, it ‘all hands on deck’ as the newly-hired employees manned every available checkout aisle and held signs aloft to show shoppers where the end of the checkout line was.

Of all the sections in the store, the shoe aisle seemed to be the most crowded this afternoon.

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