Arlington, VA

After being closed for months, Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) is planning to reopen this weekend, but with restrictions.

Owner Tim Clark said this week’s reopening is a test drive to gauge public interest in attending the entertainment venue while the rate of coronavirus cases is still going up.

“It feels weird, but good,” Clark said. “There are a lot of unknowns, but we’re excited to get back up. [We’ll be at] 33% capacity for everything, and with social distancing probably under that… We just really want to see how the room flows and how people react.”

Clark said he recognized that the prospect of reopening the venue, which has been closed since March 13, is likely to concern people.

“At this point, we feel pretty confident in how we’re going to reopening,” Clark said. “We’re keeping to all of the mandates and recommendations. We’re doing everything we can. We still have bills and have everything going forward, so having zero revenue was going to be detrimental to the business. We’re seeing a small window and this is really a test.”

Clark said the venue will be run by what’s left of his staff. Many people have moved out of the area or found other jobs. While recognizing that it wasn’t exactly environmentally friendly, Clark said in the interest of public health the venue is also going fully disposable containers and utensils for its limited menu.

“Excited to see if people come out,” Clark said. “I think people are itching for it.”

According to the theater website:

Mask or facial covering will be required for entry into theater and must be worn while moving around inside the theater, no exceptions.   Once you are seated the masks may be removed for eating/drinking.  Seating will be in compliance with social distancing Virginia phase 3 mandates.  Full menu will be available for purchase tableside.   High touch areas will be sanitized regularly during and between events.  No one with a fever, COVID 19 symptoms or know exposure to COVID 19 with in the last 14 days will be permitted in the establishment.

This weekend, comedian Sarah Tollemache is scheduled to perform stand-up shows at 7 and 9:30 p.m. on Friday (Aug. 6) and Saturday (Aug 7). Tickets will be $20.

The venue will also be showing The Goonies on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. Tickets are $5.

Photo via Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse/Facebook

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The indoor public pools at Washington-Liberty and Yorktown high schools reopened on Saturday.

Arlington Public Schools announced Friday afternoon that the pools would be reopening under the state’s Phase 3 guidelines. The Wakefield High School pool “will remain closed for a few more weeks” due to major maintenance work, APS said.

Those who want to use the pools are required to make a reservation for a 45-minute window.

More from an APS email to parents:

The two pools will open under the Virginia Forward Phase III guidelines, which include diminished capacity, physical distancing of 10 feet and the requirement of a health and temperature screening for all staff and patrons. We have posted many of the details on our website and will continue to do so over the next 24 hours. Use this link to learn more and stay informed.

Patrons will need to purchase admission and make a reservation for a 45-min swim or water exercise/jog session. You will need to set up an account on our Self-Service Portal. You will receive a separate email this evening inviting you to join the APS Aquatics Self-Service Portal. Follow the instructions on the email to set up your account. […]

The reservations will open at 8 a.m. on the previous day (On Friday at 8 a.m. you will be able to register for Saturday sessions). They will first go live tomorrow morning. Instruction on registering are available at Making a Reservation. This section also includes information about what to expect when you get to the pool, while you swim and after you are done. Patrons will be checked in, directed to the locker rooms to shower before swimming and out to the deck to a designated Blue or Red lanes. After you swim, you may choose to exit directly off the deck or enter the Unisex Room to change out of your swimming gear and shower. If you have any questions or need assistance navigating the portal or the registration page, please call 703-228-6264 or 703-228-6263. […]

Regretfully, The Wakefield pool will remain closed for a few more weeks. APS is performing major maintenance in the entire building ahead of the start of the school year. We recognize this is disappointing to our Wakefield patrons, but it is imperative that this work be completed. We anticipate opening around August 24. […]

The APS Aquatics team is excited to be back at the pools and ready to welcome you back.  Staff will be learning how to navigate this new way of serving you and the success of our re-opening depends greatly on your willingness to follow the guidelines and on your patience. Our primary concern remains your safety both in the water and in the building.

We very much look forward to seeing you on Saturday at Washington-Liberty and Yorktown Pools. It has been a long 4-months on dry land.

Arlington County does not have outdoor public pools, but is home to several private swim clubs. The county government itself does not currently operate any public pools, but that will change when the Long Bridge Park Aquatics and Fitness Center opens. The opening of the aquatics center, however, has been delayed at least a year due to the pandemic and budget issues.

File photo

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Virginia’s Phase 3 reopening starts today, with relaxed rules for restaurants, stores, fitness studios and social gatherings.

But as new coronavirus cases continue to surge in the South and West, the reopening raises the specter of Virginia’s waning epidemic returning.

Unlike New Jersey, which recently postponed the return of indoor dining, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is opting to continue reopening indoor, communal settings. He announced yesterday, however, that bar seating will be prohibited inside restaurants.

Arlington County, meanwhile, is encouraging residents to stay “safer at home” and to continue social distancing, telecommuting, and wearing masks in indoor public settings.

“Because Arlington is an urban, high-density area — and because there is still community spread of the virus — the County is going to similarly move forward with caution in the hopes of continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety and well-being of the entire community,” the county said in a press release today.

The press release notes that fitness rooms and gyms will reopen at four community centers — Fairlington, Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Langston Brown — next Friday, July 10.

The good news for Arlington is that the current level of coronavirus spread remains low: five new cases were reported overnight, for a seven-day total of 46. The seven-day rate of new hospitalizations stands at just three, a new low since such data started to be reliably reported by the Virginia Dept. of Health.

The county press release about the reopening is below.

Arlington County, along with the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, is transitioning to Phase 3 of the Forward Virginia plan on Wednesday, July 1.

In Phase 3, Arlington will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing and teleworking, and the requirement that individuals wear face coverings in indoor public settings. All businesses should continue to follow physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces and keep enhanced workplace safety measures in place.

As part of a cautious approach to entering Phase 3, Governor Northam on Tuesday announced that bar seating will remain prohibited in restaurants to reduce the likelihood of patrons gathering in bar areas without observing social distancing guidelines. The Governor added he is prepared to implement tighter restrictions if needed.

Because Arlington is an urban, high-density area — and because there is still community spread of the virus — the County is going to similarly move forward with caution in the hopes of continuing to stop the spread of COVID-19 and ensure the safety and well-being of the entire community.

Arlington will continue to open government facilities gradually to ensure adequate space for social distancing and follow public health guidelines. […]

Playgrounds and Outdoor Restrooms Now Open, Select Fitness Rooms to Open July 10

Continuing its gradual reopening, in according with public health and safety guidelines, Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation reopened playgrounds and outdoor restrooms, including playgrounds located at Arlington Public Schools, effective Friday, June 26. Additionally, athletic field and court lighting returned to regular schedules.

Park users must continue to social distance and comply with the appropriate usage guidelines. Learn more on the Reopening Arlington Parks FAQ page.

Starting Friday, July 10, fitness rooms and gyms will reopen in four of DPR’s centers: Fairlington, Madison, Thomas Jefferson and Langston Brown.

Community and nature centers and spraygrounds remain closed.

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Morning Notes

March Planned Tonight in Crystal City — “This Tuesday (6/30) we will be gathering in Crystal City Courtyard Green to march to Pentagon City in defense of Black womxn.” [Twitter]

Petition for APS to Require Masks — “To maximize the chances of success for Arlington Public Schools (Virginia) hybrid return to school model we urge the School Board and Superintendent Dr. Francisco Durán to make face coverings compulsory for both students and teachers during the days they are at school for in-person learning. Those who object to wearing masks can always choose the distance-learning option.” [Change.org]

Local Church to Feed Thousands — “On Wednesday, July 1, 2020, Our Lady Queen of Peace (OLQP) in south Arlington is working with José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen (WCK) to feed families in need of food assistance. World Central Kitchen is providing 3,500 meals to OLQP for distribution to the community. Meals will be offered to take home in conjunction with pre-packed food the OLQP food pantry distributes every Wednesday morning. This is the second time WCK will be providing meals to OLQP during the pandemic.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]

Catholic Churches Enter ‘Phase 3’ — “All 70 parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Arlington will move into phase three of Virginia’s reopening plan on Wednesday. Officials announced Monday that each parish is ‘able, but not mandated, to celebrate public Mass with capacity restrictions lifted’ beginning on July 1.” [Fox 5]

County Adjusts Committee Meeting Rules — “After facing a rebellion from members and chairs of advisory commissions, the Arlington County Board has revised rules for holding meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps the two biggest changes from the original plans: Commission chairs (apparently) will no longer have to seek county-staff permission to hold meetings. Advisory-group meetings will be allowed in-person or in a hybrid format, in addition to the previously announced “virtual”-only arrangement.” [InsideNova]

New Construction Contract for VHC Inked — “Skanska USA has inked more work with Virginia Hospital Center as the Arlington hospital soldiers on with its $250 million expansion project. The construction company said Monday it signed a contract worth $96 million for site work for the new outpatient pavilion and parking garage at the hospital. That’s on top of a $37 million contract with VHC it grabbed late last year.” [Washington Business Journal]

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The rate of new COVID-19 infections in Arlington continues to drop.

Seventeen new cases have been reported since Friday, bringing the trailing seven-day infection total to 42 — an average of six per day. One new hospitalization has been reported since Friday and no new deaths have been reported, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data.

Arlington’s test positivity rate, meanwhile, now stands at just 2.5%.

“It appears that wearing masks, social distancing, and being outside have had a very positive impact on the area,” Virginia Hospital Center ER chief Dr. Mike Silverman wrote Friday in a public social media post. “We’re still seeing patients that require COVID evaluations at a similar rate to the last couple of weeks but this remains well below the peak volumes we saw in April and we did not appear to see a bump in cases as a result of the protests.”

“COVID is not gone though I know some people think it is. It does appear to be less prevalent,” he added. “We’ve even seen a drop in the rate of our asymptomatic screening patients which gives me a sense for the prevalence in the general area.”

One area of concern is what might happen as Virginia enters Phase 3 of the reopening on Wednesday, allowing more people to gather indoors at restaurants and other businesses, albeit with masks required.

A surge in new coronavirus cases prompted Texas and Florida to close bars last week. A few hours from Arlington, bars have been temporarily closing on the Delaware shore as employees get sick, and Pittsburgh is banning alcohol consumption at bars starting Tuesday amid a spike in new cases.

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Good news for kids and parents: two weeks after dog parks and tennis courts reopened, playgrounds and outdoor public restrooms are opening up today.

Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation made the announcement Thursday afternoon, amid the slowing rate of new COVID-19 infections. In addition to the reopening of playgrounds and restrooms, athletic field and court lights will be turned back on and organized sports allowed in parks.

Park users are asked to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines, and anyone with flu-like symptoms or recent contact with a known COVID-19 case is asked to refrain from using park amenities.

More from the parks department:

Effective Fri., June 26, Arlington County will reopen playgrounds and outdoor restrooms, including playgrounds located at Arlington Public Schools. Athletic field and court lighting will return to regular schedules. Park users must continue to social distance and comply with and follow the appropriate usage  guidelines. Here is a list of open park amenities and their usage guidelines:

  • Athletic fields (with restrictions)
  • Basketball courts
  • Batting cages
  • Bocce courts
  • Community gardens
  • Disc golf course
  • Dog parks
  • Playgrounds
  • Pickleball courts
  • Picnic shelters (with restrictions)
  • Restrooms
  • Skate park
  • Tennis courts
  • Tracks
  • Trails
  • Volleyball courts

Organized and drop-in games are allowed on athletic fields. Continue to practice social distancing when possible. Avoid physical contact during sports or fitness activities.

Access to various amenities, such as courts and shelters continue to be first-come, first-served at this time.

Do not use any Arlington County park amenity, if you have a fever, cough or difficulty breathing, or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

Park visitors are asked to adhere to the physical distancing and small group guidelines – keep at least six feet of distance from others and groups should not exceed 50 people. Wearing a cloth face covering is encouraged.

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Morning Notes

Police Mutual Aid Agreements Under Review — “The force Park Police officers have used against protesters could cost the agency its working relationship with some local police departments. In a statement to News4, Metropolitan Washington’s Council of Governments confirms it is now planning to review the regional mutual aid agreement which governs those relationships.” [NBC 4, Connection Newspapers]

Planning Commission to Restart Meetings — “After a layoff of four months, the Arlington Planning Commission soon will be back in business – albeit in ‘virtual’ format, at least for the time being. Having last met on March 11, the advisory panel will hold its first COVID-era gathering on July 6, catching up on a backlog of items but likely focused on matters headed for County Board consideration later in the month.” [InsideNova]

More Changes to Marathon Planned — “Our working solution is to break the 45th MCM up into 24 waves that will start over an expanded window of time on event morning. This plan will necessitate a smaller field of in-person participants. Those in the late waves will have less time to Beat the Bridge. Twelve minutes per mile is the best we can offer at this time. It possibly might have to go even lower.” [Marine Corps Marathon]

Four Bond Referenda Planned — “Arlington taxpayers would be asked to approve four bond referendums totaling just under $92 million in the November general election… More than half the total amount – $50.8 million – will be used to address stormwater-management issues. Additional bonds are being proposed for transportation and Metro ($30 million), infrastructure ($7.5 million) and parks ($3.6 million).” [InsideNova]

District Doughnut Promotion — “To celebrate the reopening of our Ballston Quarter store, we are treating you to extra doughnuts! From Friday, June 26th through Sunday, June 28th, the first 50 customers each day will receive a free doughnut with any purchase.” [Facebook]

Here’s Who Adopted Cupid the Cat — Cupid, an injured kitten brought to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington after being shot in the head with an arrow, has a new adoptive mother: NBC 4 meteorologist Lauryn Ricketts. Cupid made a recent appearance on the station’s morning weather report. [Instagram]

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(Updated at 4:15 p.m.) All of Virginia will enter Phase 3 of the reopening on Wednesday, July 1, Gov. Ralph Northam announced this afternoon.

Northam said that statewide coronavirus infection and hospitalization data is trending in the right direction, and the state has ample hospital bed availability and supplies of personal protective equipment, allowing a wider business reopening. Arlington and Northern Virginia entered Phase 2 of the reopening on Friday, June 12.

“This gives us about three and a half weeks in Phase 2, where we have been able to follow the data,” Northam said, adding that he wants people to keep wearing masks and follow guidelines to avoid recent spikes in other states.

“This is because Virginians have followed the guidelines of social distancing, handwashing and use of facial protection,” he said of the next reopening phase. “We encourage you to continue doing that.”

Phase 3 will:

  • Allow social gatherings with groups of up to 250
  • Lift capacity restrictions on non-essential retail stores
  • Lift capacity restrictions on restaurants, though all parties must be separated by at least six feet
  • Allow fitness centers and pools to open at 75% capacity
  • Allow entertainment venues to open at 50% capacity
  • Allow barbershops and salons to serve customers without an appointment
  • Still required masks to be worn in indoor public spaces

Northam said the Virginia Dept. of Health is continuing to hire contact tracers, to help stamp out coronavirus outbreaks, noting that about 1,000 have been hired so far.

Ashley Hopko contributed to this report

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(Updated at 10:30 a.m.) The rates of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Arlington have hit new lows, though expanding outbreaks elsewhere in the country raise questions about how long the declines will last.

Only 28 new COVID-19 cases have been reported since Friday, according to Virginia Dept. of Health data. The trailing seven-day total of new cases is now 78, the lowest mark since April 4.

Three new COVID-related hospitalizations have been reported since Friday, bringing the trailing seven-day hospitalization total down to just seven, the lowest hospitalization rate since ARLnow started tracking such data in April.

No new coronavirus deaths were reported over the weekend.

As of Monday morning, VDH listed a cumulative total of 2,424 cases, 412 hospitalizations and 126 deaths in Arlington. The county’s coronavirus test positivity rate is now just 5.3%, another new low.

The declining outbreak has been noticeable in the emergency room, according to a public Facebook post from Virginia Hospital Center ER chief Mike Silverman.

“This was a good week for our ED,” Silverman wrote. “Our COVID isolation patient volume (the way we track patients in the computer) did not increase compared to last week. Our admission rate was actually lower than it’s been in months for this patient group and our percent positive rate is dropping.”

Silverman, however, noticed a new trend: many of those enjoying the newfound freedom of going out to bars and restaurants are partying hard.

“In many ways, it resembled a typical summer weekend,” Silverman wrote about the first weekend of Virginia’s Phase 2 reopening, which started on Friday, June 12. “We had traumas, lots of alcohol related illness, and psychiatric patients. What was unusual from the alcohol perspective was the number of highly intoxicated people who were brought directly from bars. People partied hard. What was equally concerning were the reports we were getting from medics about bars being packed shoulder to shoulder with people and no one wearing masks.”

A Twitter user noted one such scene in Clarendon this weekend.

Among the states with expanding outbreaks, a common thread is that the upward momentum seems to have started with reopening. And the new cases are skewing younger, suggesting that bars and social gatherings may be playing a role.

So far, the data here has continued trending positive and Arlington — as well as Northern Virginia as a whole — has not seen the reopening uptick other states and localities have experienced. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, meanwhile, is still holding off on moving the reopening to Phase 3, which some experts fear could be the catalyst that pushes cases and hospitalizations back up.

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Morning Notes

Schwartz Presents New Capital Plan — “County Manager Mark Schwartz has proposed a $277.5 million one-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). The County Manager, rather than proposing the traditional 10-year plan, is presenting a short-term proposal until the County better understands the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus of the one-year CIP is on projects that are already underway, those that improve failing or end-of-life infrastructure, and those required by legal or regulatory obligations.” [Arlington County]

Juvenile Court Reeling from Coronavirus Cases — “An outbreak of covid-19 in the clerk’s office of the Arlington County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court has forced the court to close the office to the public and has concerned lawyers who practice there daily. Four of the seven clerks in the office have tested positive for covid-19.” [Washington Post]

Small Business Grants Announced — “Arlington County today announced 394 businesses are receiving the Small Business Emergency GRANT (Giving Resiliency Assets Near Term). The GRANT program provides financial assistance to Arlington’s small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The GRANT funds were designed to bridge the gap to provide near-term relief for businesses and nonprofits, some of whom have experienced delays or limitations with federal relief initiatives.” [Arlington County, Arlington Economic Development]

Va. Not Ready for Phase 3 — “Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday that statewide Covid-19 numbers ‘continue to look favorable,’ but that he will not move the commonwealth into phase 3 of reopening this week. ‘I want to have more time to see how the numbers look before we make changes, especially as we see surges in other parts of our country,’ Northam said.” [Washington Business Journal, InsideNova]

Wardian to Run to Every District Taco — “This is Mike Wardian, a Guinness-World-Record winning runner, who is partnering with DT on Saturday, June 20 as he runs to ALL 12 DMV LOCATIONS (just about 60 miles)! If you see Mike on his run, snap a pic and use #whereswardian for in-app credit for a free taco!” [Twitter]

County Offers Free Trees and Tree Maintenance — “Arlington County loves trees, and knows trees are critical for our stormwater infrastructure, environmental and human health benefits, and through its Tree Canopy Fund EcoAction Arlington offers grants to plant or maintain trees on private property.” [Press Release]

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Dog parks, basketball courts and volleyball courts will reopen Friday, along with gyms and restaurant dining rooms.

Arlington County announced that it was reopening the additional park facilities as Northern Virginia enters Phase 2 of the reopening. The county previously reopened athletic fields, batting cages, tennis courts, tracks and picnic shelters last Friday.

Arlington Public Library, meanwhile, will offer book returns and pickup service at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) starting Monday, June 15.

Under state guidelines, the Phase 2 reopening will allow restaurants to open indoor areas at 50% capacity and indoor gyms to open at 30% capacity. Social gatherings of up to 50 people will now be permitted.

In a press release about the reopening today, Arlington County encouraged residents to continue taking safety precautions to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

“Arlington will maintain a Safer at Home strategy, with continued recommendations for social distancing, teleworking and requiring individuals to wear face coverings in indoor public settings,” the county said.

The press release also contained a gentle reminder that parking restrictions were never lifted during the pandemic.

“The public is reminded that parking meters are being enforced,” the county said. “Motorists should be particularly mindful of posted signage in commercial areas as businesses are beginning to reopen.”

More from Arlington County, below.

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