(Updated at 4 p.m.) Arlington gas stations were busy Tuesday afternoon, but by nightfall lines formed at numerous stations as more drivers filled up in anticipation of potential shortages.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency today, in response to the cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline system, a primary source of gasoline for stations across the state. The governor’s declaration is intended to address possible fuel shortages caused by the pipeline shutdown.
From a press release:
While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued a temporary fuel transportation waiver to increase the supply of gasoline, the Governor’s emergency declaration allows state agencies to issue their own waivers as required by the state. Executive Order Seventy-Eight also provides increased flexibility and funding for state and local governments to ensure adequate fuel supply.
“This emergency declaration will help the Commonwealth prepare for any potential supply shortages and ensure Virginia motorists have access to fuel as we respond to this evolving situation,” said Governor Northam.
Earlier today, EPA Administrator Michael Regan issued an emergency fuel waiver to help alleviate fuel shortages in Virginia and other states whose supply of reformulated gasoline has been impacted by the pipeline shutdown. This waiver will continue through May 18, 2021.
In Arlington Tuesday night, nearly all gas stations along Lee Highway had lines of cars waiting to fuel up — and at least one had its pumps shut off with signs saying gas was “not available.”
Similar lines were seen in other parts of the county.
— Brian Gannon (@bgannon97) May 12, 2021
Amid the panic buying, officials say they hope to get most of the pipeline back up and running by the end of the week.
Already, as of Wednesday afternoon, more gas shortages were reported. At the Cherrydale five points intersection, for instance, both the Liberty and the Exxon stations were out of gas.
Va. May Lift Most Restrictions Next Month — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Thursday the state could lift most of its COVID-19 pandemic restrictions by mid-June, about 14 months after the state initially put those measures in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Northam said the state is planning to do away with social distancing requirements and restrictions on gathering sizes on June 15, provided coronavirus cases continue to drop and the pace of vaccinations does not let up.” [DCist, InsideNova]
Allegations of Hazing at ACFD Academy — “Over a year ago, firefighter EMT recruit Brett Ahern alleged extreme bullying and hazing at the hands of one firefighter who was an instructor with the Arlington County Fire Department’s Training Academy… there were other victims. Witnesses are speaking out on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.” [WDVM]
Mask Mandate for APS Athletes Questioned — From Sun Gazette Editor Scott McCaffrey’s blog: “Based on feedback we’ve been getting from our sources in the high-school-sports world, Arlington Public Schools has become something of a punching-bag of ridicule for its ongoing policy of requiring student-athletes to wear masks even in situations where it not only serves no good.” [Sun Gazette]
Woman Flees Knife-Wielding Robbers — “The female victim was outside her parked vehicle when she was approached by two male suspects. Suspect One brandished a knife and demanded her cell phone and money. The victim then ran to and entered her vehicle without providing any of her belongings. The suspects fled the scene when a witness approached the vehicle.” [ACPD]
Internal Pick for County Planning Director — “Arlington County has selected Anthony Fusarelli, Jr. to be the County’s new Planning Director after a nationwide search…. Fusarelli has worked in the County’s Department of Community Planning, Housing, and Development for 15 years and most recently served as Assistant Director. In this role he was responsible for development agreements and land deals, strategic initiatives, and demographic and development data research and analysis.” [Arlington County]
Warning About Rabid Cat in Falls Church — “The City of Falls Church Police and the Fairfax County Health Department are urging anyone who may have been bitten or scratched by a cat in the last fourteen days that matches the below description to please contact either agency immediately.” [City of Falls Church]
Bob & Edith’s Opening in Alexandria — “Bob & Edith’s Diner will open on King Street later this year, the company confirmed on Wednesday. The diner will take the place of Ernie’s Original Crab House, which closed in April, at 1743 King St. just a few hundred feet from the King Street Metro station.” [Alexandria Living Magazine]
Residents Want Better HQ2 View — “The tallest and most distinctive tower planned for Amazon.com Inc.’s second headquarters, the conch-shaped ‘Helix,’ will be like no other building in Greater Washington. And Arlington residents would like to see it from their neighborhoods… [as planned] the positioning would obstruct the surrounding community’s views of the signature structure, said Leonardo Sarli, an Arlington planning commissioner.” [Washington Business Journal]
Ebbin Endorses Colleague’s Challenger — “State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria-Arlington-Fairfax) has endorsed challenger Elizabeth Bennett-Parker in the competitive Democratic primary in the 45th House District. ‘I feel a responsibility to weigh in,’ Ebbin said in an April 22 statement… Bennett-Parker, who currently serves as vice chair of the Alexandria City Council, will face off against [Del. Mark] Levine in the June 8 Democratic primary.” [Sun Gazette]
County Launches Hunger Task Force — “Arlington County has launched a Food Security Task Force to develop strategies and recommendations to achieve a more food secure Arlington. ‘Our fellow Arlingtonians in need are our families and neighbors, and while the County and community came together to address hunger needs throughout the pandemic, much more remains to be done,’ said Matt de Ferranti, Chair of the Arlington County Board.” [Arlington County]
Bar Seating Now Allowed Again — “Remember sitting at a bar and ordering a drink from a bartender? It’s been a while since that simple activity has been allowed in much of the greater Washington area due to pandemic regulations. But in an executive order quietly updated on Wednesday, Governor Ralph Northam is allowing Virginia bar patrons to be seated at a bar for service as long as there is a minimum of six feet between parties.” [Washingtonian]
Other Covid Restrictions Eased — “Governor Ralph Northam today announced that sports and entertainment venues in Virginia may begin to operate with expanded capacity, and social gathering limits will increase beginning Saturday, May 15th. The announcement comes as vaccinations continue to rise in the Commonwealth, and more than half of all adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]
Nearby: D.C. Statehood Advances — “For the second time in history, the House passed legislation Thursday to make the District of Columbia the nation’s 51st state, bolstering momentum for a once-illusory goal that has become a pivotal tenet of the Democratic Party’s voting rights platform. Democrats unanimously approved Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s Washington, D.C. Admission Act, describing it as a bid to restore equal citizenship to the residents of the nation’s capital and rectify a historic injustice.” [Washington Post]
Gov. Ralph Northam today (Thursday) announced that all individuals in Virginia age 16 and older will be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine starting on Sunday, April 18.
That is about two weeks ahead of President Joe Biden’s nationwide goal of expanding eligibility to the general public by May 1.
The news comes as nearly every Virginian in the highest risk groups who have pre-registered for a vaccine appointment has received one, and those still waiting will receive appointment invitations in the next two weeks, according to the Commonwealth.
More than 3.7 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Virginia, the state said, adding that about one in three adults have received at least one dose and one in five are fully vaccinated.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel — and that light is getting brighter every day as more and more Virginians get vaccinated,” Northam said. “Expanding vaccine eligibility to all adults marks an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to put this pandemic behind us, and I thank all of the public health staff, health care workers, vaccinators, and volunteers who have helped make this possible.”
Arlington is currently averaging just over 2,200 doses administered per day — a new local record, though it still lags in fully vaccinated individuals per capita. According to data from the Virginia Department of Health, nearly 12% of Arlington’s population has been fully vaccinated, compared to 13.3% for Alexandria and 14.5% for Fairfax County.
“We have seen a bit of an increase in doses recently, and we continue to be optimistic that our supply will increase even more,” Arlington County Public Health Division spokeswoman Cara O’Donnell tells ARLnow.
As of March 29, there are upwards of 35,000 people pre-registered to receive the vaccine in Arlington, about 15,000 who cited complication risks and 19,000 who cited work-related exposure risks, Public Health Director Dr. Reuben Varghese told the County Board in a work session on Tuesday.
“We’ve already reached out to all eligible residents who have pre-registered with the county,” said O’Donnell, in a vaccine Q&A video published today. “There have been quite a few cases where missing or incorrect info can make your record ineligible. Make sure your eligibility category is one of the one’s being scheduled. If you’ve tried everything and you think there’s a problem, let us know.”
Arlington County has been calling for more vaccine from the state. The Commonwealth, meanwhile, says it is distributing vaccine doses as quickly as they are provided by the federal government.
“Because the Commonwealth has followed guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to prioritize those at highest risk, and because Virginia is a large and diverse state with many essential workers, many out-of-state commuters, and a high percentage of the population that wants to be vaccinated, it has taken some time to open eligibility to the general public,” according to a press release from the governor’s office.
Phase 1C essential workers in 21 of Virginia’s 35 local health districts have been able to secure vaccination appointments, according to the release, and beginning April 4 districts that have invited everyone pre-registered in Phase 1C may invite members of the general public who have pre-registered to schedule appointments.
Arlington is still working through Phase 1B, recently expanding access to clergy and janitorial staff eligible in this phase, according to the County Board work session. Phase 1C essential workers and the general public are still ineligible.
Despite demand currently outstripping supply in places like Arlington, all local health districts will have enough vaccines to open appointments to the general public by April 18, according to the Commonwealth. Those at the highest risk will continue to be prioritized in the scheduling process.
Varghese said his department is aware of disproportionalities in Arlington among those who have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Through March 27, more than 63% of Arlington residents and non-residents with at least one dose said they are non-Hispanic white. Meanwhile, Hispanic or Latino residents and non-residents make up 11% of those vaccinated and non-Hispanic Black Arlington residents and non-residents make up 7% of those vaccinated.
White people are slightly over-represented in vaccination rates compared to their proportion of the population, while Arlington residents who do not identify as white are slightly under-represented.
“All we can conclude right now is that this is who was able to get into the system,” Varghese said. “An Internet email system is going to disenfranchise some more than others, but it’s what the CDC had to put together.”
Gov. Ralph Northam announced this morning a proposal to move up the legalization of marijuana in Virginia to this summer.
A legalization bill championed by state Sen. Adam Ebbin (D), who represents part of Arlington, passed the General Assembly earlier this year. But it called for legalization of recreational marijuana possession and cultivation on Jan. 1, 2024.
Northam is sending the bill back to the state legislature to consider a July 1, 2021 implementation.
“Governor Ralph Northam today proposed moving up the legalization of simple possession of marijuana to July 1, 2021, nearly three years sooner than previously planned,” said a press release. “The Governor also announced he is proposing changes that advance public health protections, set clear expectations for labor protections in the cannabis industry, and begin to seal criminal records [of past marijuana convictions] immediately.”
Ebbin told news outlets he thinks the sped-up timeline will be approved.
“My colleagues and I worked closely with Governor Northam to ensure this bill prioritizes public health and social equity,” Ebbin said in a press release from the governor’s office. “I look forward to adopting these amendments and passing this important legislation into law.”
While small-scale marijuana possession was decriminalized in Virginia last year, Northam said those facing fines under the new statute are disproportionately Black.
“Virginia’s communities of color deserve equity — and that means taking action now to end the disproportionate fines, arrests, and convictions of marijuana offenses,” Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax said in the press release.
The bill allows people 21 and over to “legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis, without intent to distribute,” and will also “allow households to grow up to four plants… out of sight from public view, and out of range of individuals under the age of 21.”
Smoking marijuana while driving and possession of it on school grounds will remain illegal.
Previous ARLnow polls revealed strong local support for marijuana decriminalization. When Ebbin proposed it in 2016, nearly 80% of poll respondents said they supported decriminalization. In 2019, when then-candidate Parisa Dehghani-Tafti pledged not to prosecute simple marijuana possession charges as Commonwealth’s Attorney, more than 75% of poll respondents said they supported that.
Legalization obviously goes beyond decriminalization, however, and there are some who believe the risks associated with marijuana use call for something less than full legalization. There are also some who think Virginia should take more time to legalize weed, in order to allow a more orderly establishment of a statewide marijuana industry.
Still, Northam’s changes to the legalization bill reportedly have support on both sides of the aisle and are expected to pass
What do you think?
Photo by Roberto Valdivia/Unsplash
County Still Prepping for Preservation Hearing — “Even though the razing of the Rouse estate may be at hand, the Arlington County government’s historic-preservation staff is taking the steps necessary if public hearings on preservation of the site go forward in April… But nearly all parties now expect that the buildings on the 9-acre site will be razed before those hearings occur.” [Sun Gazette]
Preservationist Compares Estate to Auschwitz — Tom Dickinson, who’s leading the charge to save the Rouse estate, directed the following statement to the County Board over the weekend, referencing the likelihood that enslaved people built part of the estate: “If you, the board, do not intervene to stop this destruction of this sacred site, your individual and collective legacy will be stained forever by a lack of honor and respect for those who labored and suffered to create these structures at this site, and the desecration of them… It would be the equivalent of allowing the destruction of the crematory ovens at Auschwitz.” [Sun Gazette]
Northam Further Easing COVID Restrictions — “Governor Northam has further amended Executive Order 72 to modify public health restrictions in place to prevent transmission of COVID-19. These changes come as Virginia’s vaccination rate is steady and case counts are fluctuating. Effective April 1, limits on social gatherings will increase from 10 to 50 for indoor gatherings, and from 25 to 100 for outdoor gatherings.” [Arlington County]
NAACP Head Receives FBI Community Award — “FBI Washington Field Office (WFO) Assistant Director in Charge (ADIC) Steven M. D’Antuono is pleased to announce Mr. Julius Spain, Sr., as the recipient of the 2020 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award (DCLA) for WFO. Mr. Spain serves as President of the Arlington Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).” [FBI]
Arlington Free Clinic’s Vaccination Effort — “Officials and community organizations are scrambling to close this racial gap in vaccine access. One such organization is the Arlington Free Clinic, which serves uninsured adults, many of them undocumented immigrants, in Arlington County. The clinic is holding vaccination days twice a week and working with other local social service organizations to develop an alternate pathway for low-income communities of color to get vaccinated.” [WAMU]
Former AP Bureau Chief Dies — “Charles Lewis, a former Washington bureau chief for The Associated Press and The Hearst Newspapers who tirelessly advocated for the release of AP journalist Terry Anderson from kidnappers in Lebanon, died Saturday. He was 80. Lewis, of Arlington, Virginia, died at a hospital from complications from cancer.” [Associated Press]
Arlington County has the capacity to administer 14,000 vaccine doses per week, but has been getting at most 8,000 doses per week from the state.
That’s according to a letter sent to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam from the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, which represents Arlington and other local government in the region. The letter asks the governor to send Northern Virginia localities more doses to quicken the pace of vaccinations.
“We have assembled the capacity to administer many more doses of coronavirus vaccine than we are currently administering,” the commission’s letter says. “With additional doses allocated to our health districts immediately, we can put that capacity to work to quickly assist the Commonwealth in achieving its vaccination and equity goals.”
The letter notes that Arlington has over 28,000 people who meet current Virginia’s Phase 1A and 1B guidelines waiting for their vaccinations to be scheduled. Meanwhile, the state announced last week that some health districts — including less populated areas where there is less vaccine demand — would begin transitioning to Phase 1C.
“Each of our health districts have waiting lists for vaccines for individuals in the 1A and 1B categories that far outstrip the supply we have received to date,” the letter says. “We stand ready to meet your expectation that everyone, even those who have not yet registered, will have a place in line six weeks from now, but we will need more doses immediately to make that reality.”
As of Tuesday morning, 24,690 people in Arlington — 10.4% of the county’s population — have been fully vaccinated, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. In all, just under 67,000 doses have been administered in Arlington, at a trailing seven-day average rate of 1,372 doses per day. That figure includes doses administered by pharmacies and other private entities.
County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti said the county is also seeking more autonomy from the state to make decisions about vaccination priorities.
“We hope that the Governor will respond to the NVRC’s request to increase Northern Virginia’s vaccine supply, and to allow our Health Directors greater discretion to make decisions about how we administer the vaccine to our residents going forward,” de Ferranti said in a statement. “We have the capacity and the demonstrated commitment to vaccinating our community as quickly and equitably as possible.”
Arlington’s Congressman, Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.), also weighed in, tweeting his support Monday for more vaccine doses.
We need more vaccine doses in Northern Virginia. https://t.co/LmDM3B5lho
— Don Beyer (@DonBeyerVA) March 22, 2021
Police Searching for Missing Girl — “ACPD is seeking the public’s assistance locating 15 year old Javon… Described as a B/F, 5’7″, 195 lbs with long black and dark blue braids. She was wearing a tie-dye sweatshirt with ‘Myrtle Beach’ on the front, black joggers, crocs, and a white mask.” [Twitter]
MU Returning to ‘Fully In-Person’ in Fall — “Following multiple semesters of modified instruction due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marymount University is pleased to announce its plans to reinstate a fully in-person academic delivery model starting in August for the upcoming fall semester, along with a return to a more ‘normal’ college experience for students in regards to resident life, athletics, campus activities and more.” [Press Release]
New Pike Restaurant Features Colorful Murals — “In late October, he did just that with the debut of Supreme Hot Pot in Arlington’s Columbia Heights neighborhood. He enlisted a group of friends to decorate the walls with murals of soup, dragons, fish and a zaftig lucky cat. Even from the street, the art attracts diners with its red and gold tones.” [Northern Virginia Magazine]
Middle School Sports Could Be Cut — “First, high-school sports in Arlington were shut down for months because of the pandemic, and now there is a chance middle-school athletics in the county could be eliminated because of budget cuts. A proposal included in Superintendent Francisco Durán’s 2021-22 school budget calls for the elimination of teacher stipends for extracurricular activities and athletics at the middle-school level.” [Sun Gazette]
Project Takes Local Couple Across U.S. — “Two Arlington County residents set out on a year long journey to see all 50 states and document it through art, photography via the 50 states project. That was before the pandemic temporarily stopped their plans in March 2020… what began as a project to see all 50 states turned into a study of before and after the impacts of 2020.” [WJLA]
Another Local Endorsement for McAuliffe — “Arlington County Board Chairman Matt de Ferranti has become one of the latest county elected officials endorsing Terry McAuliffe’s bid for governor. McAuliffe ‘has laid out clear plans to create a better future for all Virginians,’ de Ferranti said in a statement.” [Sun Gazette]
Responses to Violence in Atlanta — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam released a statement yesterday, saying: “We are grieving with the Asian American community and all of the victims of the horrific shootings in Atlanta last night that took eight lives, six of whom were women of Asian descent. This is the latest in a series of heinous attacks against Asian Americans across this nation, but sadly these are not isolated events.” Arlington police, meanwhile, said there are “no known threats” in the county associated with the shooting. [Commonwealth of Virginia, Twitter]
The Virginia General Assembly official adjourned on Monday (March 1), wrapping up a significant legislative session.
After years in the legislative minority, Democrats currently hold all the House of Delegates, the state Senate, and the governorship.
This has allowed for a number of progressive-minded bills that have garnered both regional and national attention to pass , including abolishing the death penalty and legalizing recreational marijuana.
The General Assembly also passed a budget.
Bills that have moved through both the House of Delegates and the Senate will now go to Governor Ralph Northam’s desk.
It’s expected he will sign most — if not all — of the legislation by March 31, 11:59 p.m deadline.
All of Arlington’s lawmakers are Democrats, which led to high hopes that a number of proposed pieces of legislation would pass. This proved to be true.
Here are a few notables:
- HB 2131 — Introduced by Del. Alfonso Lopez, representing the 49th District, the bill allows greater input from localities about what businesses are granted liquor licenses by the Virginia ABC. It also expands the definition of “criminal blight,” making it easier for a license to be denied in cases of criminal activity. The bill was inspired by the former Columbia Pike business Purple Ethiopian Restaurant & Lounge.
- HB 2123 — Also from Del. Lopez, this bill allows students access to state financial aid and grants no matter their citizenship or immigration status as long as Virginia is their permanent home. While it passed the House relatively easily, it barely passed the Senate with only a two vote margin.
- HB 1854 — Passed last month, this legislation first introduced by Del. Rip Sullivan (D-48) allows Arlington County to rename the portion of U.S. Route 29, otherwise known as “Lee Highway,” within its boundaries. While a work group initially recommended the road to be renamed “Loving Avenue,” this is unlikely to happen due to objections from the family.
- SB 1220 — The bill repeals requirements that state mental health facilities to report the immigration status of patients when admitted. If the person is an undocumented, the United States immigration office had to be notified. This requirement discouraged some to seek mental health care. It was introduced by Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31).
- HB 1911 — This bill from Del. Patrick Hope (D-47) removes the requirement for a corroborating witness for a no-fault divorce to be granted.
- HB 2081 — Introduced by Del. Mark Levine (D-45), the bill bans guns from being within 40 feet of a polling place or meeting place of a local electoral board. The only exceptions are law enforcement, a licensed armed security officer, or if a person’s private property lies within 40 feet of these locations. It passed the Senate by a relatively thin margin of only three votes.
- SJ 270 — This Constitutional amendment introduced by Sen. Adam Ebbin (D-30) repeals the prohibition on same-sex marriage in Virginia. While the ban was technically not enforceable because of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling allowing same-sex marriage, it remained a goal of the Ebbin to have it amended. This legislation received national attention, particularly due to Ebbin’s status as Virginia’s first openly LGBTQ legislator.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
Believe it or not, Arlington County has a working commercial farm.
The farm, which is located in a commercial building along Lee Highway, uses hydroponic technology to grow a variety of edible plants indoors. And it’s about to expand.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced this afternoon that Fresh Impact Farms will be getting a $30,000 grant — half from the state, half from the county — that will help it double production and create six jobs.
Fresh Impact, Arlington County’s only commercial farm, is banking on its restaurant customers ramping up purchases as vaccinated customers flock back to indoor dining. It also launched a direct-to-consumer Community Supported Agriculture program last year.
County Board Chair Matt de Ferranti hailed the business and its expansion.
“Governor Northam’s award to Fresh Impact Farms, Arlington’s only commercial farm, is an innovative way to celebrate unique uses of technology to help a small business pivot during the pandemic,” de Ferranti said in a statement. “I am thrilled that Fresh Impact Farms is growing and looking to the future of a sustainable food supply.”
More on the company’s expansion, below, from a press release issued by the governor’s office.
Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Fresh Impact Farms will invest $137,500, create six new jobs, and more than double production at its Arlington County indoor facility. Operating since 2018 as Arlington’s only commercial farm, Fresh Impact Farms uses proprietary hydroponic technology to grow a variety of specialty herbs, leafy greens, and edible flowers for sale to customers in the Greater Washington, D.C. metro area.
Like many companies, Fresh Impact Farms has pivoted its business model amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Seizing the opportunity created by more people cooking at home, the company initiated a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program targeting area residents. The CSA program, which focuses on leafy greens and home kitchen-friendly herbs, has grown steadily since its establishment in April 2020 and now includes smaller wholesale clients. Now, with vaccinations underway and the restaurant industry poised to rebound, Fresh Impact Farms is expanding, which will allow the company to resume supplying their restaurant customers, while also meeting new demand through their CSA program.
“Agriculture continues to be a key driver of our economic recovery in both rural and urban areas of our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “Innovative, dynamic businesses like Fresh Impact Farms are demonstrating how exciting new opportunities can grow out of pandemic-related challenges. I congratulate the company on their success and am thrilled to award the first-ever AFID grant to Arlington County to support this expansion.”
This expansion by Fresh Impact Farms will include a second grow room, larger production facility, and an educational hub where, post-pandemic, customers will be able to see how their food is harvested. Over the next three years, the company expects to grow an additional 10,500 pounds of Virginia-grown leafy greens, herbs, and edible flowers for restaurant and CSA customers.
“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private sector industry and the Commonwealth continues to be on the forefront of emerging agriculture technologies,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am inspired by Fresh Impact Farms’ commitment to not only bringing fresh, local produce to Virginians, but also for its commitment to educate our community about how local food is grown.”
“2020 was undoubtedly one of the hardest years in recent memory for many people and businesses, but I’m heartened by the strength and flexibility the entire Fresh Impact Farms team has shown in our deep pivot to consumers and a CSA model to help us get to the point where we are ready to expand our business,” said Fresh Impact Farms Founder Ryan Pierce. “The support and generosity from the Commonwealth and Arlington County will be valuable as we expand our production and move towards a hybrid model of serving both the needs of restaurants and consumers. As the owner of a local food business, nothing gets me more excited than seeing the community come together in support of local food. The future is bright for urban agriculture and this grant will help us make an even greater impact in our community.”
Effective March 1, Virginians will be able to buy and drink alcohol at restaurants, food courts, breweries, distilleries and wineries until they are required to close at midnight.
The changes to the current executive order come amid declining rates of hospitalizations and infections and rising vaccination rates in the Commonwealth, Northam said during a press conference this morning (Wednesday).
Northam is also easing restrictions for outdoor entertainment and social gatherings, where evidence shows the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 is lower, as well as allowing overnight summer camps to open “with strict mitigation measures in place.”
“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of all Virginians, hospitalization and positivity rates across the Commonwealth are the lowest they have been in nearly three months,” Northam said in a press release. “As key health metrics show encouraging trends and we continue to ramp up our vaccination efforts, we can begin to gradually resume certain recreational activities and further reopen sectors of our economy.”
He attributed the rise in cases over the winter to cold weather and the holidays.
In Arlington, the rate of new coronavirus cases dropped from a peak of around 850 cases per week since mid-January, but has since leveled off between 250-300 cases per week. Cases have similarly dropped nationwide, but that drop has been leveling off.
Meanwhile, Virginia’s Safer at Home strategy — and its accompanying requirements for physical distancing, mask-wearing, gathering limits and business capacity restrictions — will remain in place.
“Even as we take steps to safely ease public health guidelines, we must all remain vigilant so we can maintain our progress — the more we stay home, mask up, and practice social distancing, the more lives we will save from this dangerous virus,” Northam said.
The current modified Stay at Home order will expire on Sunday.
Several Arlington restaurants have told ARLnow that they were waiting on a decision about the Stay at Home order before making plans for March, a month that includes St. Patrick’s Day, March Madness basketball and other events that are traditional draws for local bars.
The full press release from the governor’s office is below.