At least 25 restaurants have closed in Arlington since the start of the pandemic, nearly one year ago.
The restaurants that have closed their doors run the gamut from local watering holes to workday lunch spots to a neighborhood froyo stop. Many were hit hard by the the loss of business caused by the pandemic and subsequent safety measures, though some might have closed regardless.
The loss of any local business is upsetting, but which of the following closures are you most sad about?
Hannah Foley contributed to this report
A bill that has passed the Virginia House of Delegates would allow bicyclists in the Commonwealth to treat stop signs as yield signs in certain situations.
“Supporters say it will make roads safer for bicyclists after increases in traffic injuries and deaths, while opponents argue it makes the movements of cyclists less predictable,” the Washington Post reported. “The bill also would require drivers to change lanes when passing a bicyclist if three feet of distance isn’t possible and would allow two cyclists to stay side-by-side in a lane.”
The bill is now set to be considered by the Virginia State Senate.
What do you think?
Most Arlington students will be heading back to classrooms next month.
Arlington Public Schools announced Tuesday that in-person learning — with students in classrooms two days per week — will resume for all grade levels between March 2 and March 18, with younger students starting earlier. Students who opt out will remain in full-time virtual learning.
The announcement follows prodding by Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who last week encouraged school systems to return by March 15.
The news is being met with jubilation from many APS families, but others are not as happy. Many teachers wanted more time for vaccinations, while a contingent of parents think in-person learning should have resumed much earlier.
(Half of APS staff members have received at least one vaccine dose, according to Superintendent Francisco Durán, who cited improving health metrics as an impetus for his return-to-school decision.)
What do you think?
Yesterday, Amazon revealed a bold plan for the second phase of its HQ2 in Pentagon City.
The main attraction of the 2.8 million square foot office proposal is The Helix, “a 350-foot tall spiraling office building that recreates a climb in the Blue Ridge Mountains.” Part park, part office building, The Helix could one day be as prominent an Arlington landmark as any other building, except perhaps the Pentagon — which is just across the street.
The Helix will be joined by three 22-story buildings, an amenity building with a community gathering space and daycare center, a public pedestrian promenade and dog park, and three retail pavilions. That’s in addition to everything in the first HQ2 phase.
The design of the development, specifically The Helix, has drawn mixed reviews. Among the headlines generated by the big reveal:
- “Amazon’s next headquarters is a glass poop emoji covered in trees” (The Verge)
- “A Soft Serve Matcha Ice Cream Cone” (Washingtonian)
- “Amazon Plans a Climbable Office Tower: Building across river from DC will rival Washington Monument on area’s skyline” (Newser)
What do you think?
While those in Arlington and across the nation watched the musical tribute on TV, many in the D.C. area could actually hear or see the fireworks from their homes.
And it wasn’t just the usual suspects whose homes overlook the Potomac. As the Capital Weather Gang reported, a weather phenomenon known as an inversion allowed people relatively far from the National Mall to hear the fireworks rumble.
The temperature inversion “‘caps’ the atmosphere, preventing cooler surface air from rising. It also helps turn the lower atmosphere into an echo chamber, allowing sound waves to propagate across long distances,” CWG wrote. “A firework-induced rumbling was heard as far away as Silver Spring, Huntington, Bethesda and Hyattsville.”
We know of at least one family in Reston who also said they could hear it.
Such weather phenomena, however, are fickle, and while someone 15 miles away might have heard it, there were no doubt parts of Arlington that were perfectly quiet.
So this morning we’re wondering: did you hear the fireworks Wednesday night?
Flickr pool photo by David Giambarresi
By all accounts, 2020 was terrible.
A pandemic claiming hundreds of thousands of lives. Police killings. Riots. Violence in the streets. Unemployment. Hunger. Businesses closing. Rising levels of crime. Election controversy. Schools closed. Medical workers exhausted. Lockdowns. Social isolation. To name just a few.
Please do not bring that foolishness into 2021.
— Dionne Warwick (@dionnewarwick) December 11, 2020
Overall, this year sucked. But on an individual level, there are undoubtedly people for whom 2020 had some redeemable qualities.
Maybe you got engaged, or had your first child, or got a big promotion at work. Maybe spending more time at home and with family wasn’t so bad.
At the risk of making some feel guilty, this morning we’re asking: was 2020 actually a better year for you, personally, than 2019?
During the pandemic, many who formerly commuted to work are now working from home.
Some are eager to go back to the office full time when it’s safe to do so, while others may be contemplating a switch to either working from home permanently or at least a couple of days per week.
A wide range of companies are moving to or considering moving to a “hybrid workplace” model post-pandemic. Among them is Microsoft, which will let employees opt to work from home up to 50% of the time, or permanently with a manager’s approval.
It seems likely that many office-based employers in Arlington and elsewhere in the D.C. area will be implementing similar policies as the pandemic (hopefully) comes to an end this year. That has made us wonder about the impact on commuting.
More work from home days collectively would mean less commuting, which is generally a good thing for the environment and for traffic. There may be second order effects, as well, especially in cases where an employer offers flexibility in deciding when you go into the office.
Such flexibility, for instance, may have implications for bike commuting
Arlington County has long worked towards the goal of having more people bike to work, thus taking cars off the road during peak commuting times. So far it’s still a niche commuting option: only 1.5% of Arlington residents report biking as their primary means of commuting, compared to 51.1% who drive alone, according to the latest U.S. Census data.
Should you have the ability to pick and choose when you go to the office, it could allow you to go in on good weather days and skip bad weather days, a big deterrent to regular bike commuting. All of a sudden, with bad weather largely out of the equation, the idea of being able to commute for free without worrying about traffic, while getting a workout and fresh air, may become more attractive.
What do you think?
It has been a boom year for live Christmas trees.
Various news outlets, including the New York Times, report that sales of Christmas trees — the real ones — have soared amid the pandemic, leading to shortages in some areas. Those stuck at home, it seems, have taken to holiday decorating as a way to enliven one’s living space and spend some quality indoor time.
Despite the good news for Christmas tree farmers, the overall Christmas decorating trend has been moving toward artificial trees, the sales of which seem destined to overtake their live counterparts.
Real trees may look pretty and smell nice, but the convenience factor of artificial trees — and the long-term cost savings — has led people to increasingly opt for the latter.
Which, if any, are you putting up in the living room this year?
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
With many students struggling with their academic achievement during remote learning and the pandemic, Fairfax County Public Schools has discussed potentially extending the school year into the summer.
The idea of an extended school year, to allow students to catch up on their studies during the summer, has also been raised by Arlington School Board member Tannia Talento.
“Can we make a summer school plan to be proactive versus reactive?” Talento asked, at a recent Board meeting.
Given that vaccines are on the way, and that there appears to be a lower level of infection during warmer-weather months, it seems likely that classes could be held in-person this summer. That may be just what’s needed, at least for some students, after months of virtual classes.
On the other hand, it could be argued that kids most of all just need a break from sitting and staring at screens, something that a summer vacation provides. And the virus will likely still be circulating this summer, despite the vaccines.
Do you think APS should plan to do so?
Yesterday, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that Americans should avoid travelling during the holiday season, but get tested if they do travel.
“Cases are rising. Hospitalizations are increasing, Deaths are increasing. We need to try to bend the curve, stop this exponential increase,” said the CDC’s incident manager for the COVID-19 pandemic, as quoted by USA Today.
The federal agency has additional guidance for family holiday gatherings on its website.
Despite the CDC’s advice, many will still travel, gather and celebrate. Today we’re wondering how many Arlingtonians are planning to head out of town for Hanukkah, Christmas or the new year.
Are you planning to travel this holiday season?
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf