The District of Columbia could begin a staggered reopening starting from Friday, May 29, according to Mayor Muriel Bowser if the coronavirus-related figures in the nation’s capital keep looking positive in the coming days.
Thursday’s announcement came during a press conference in the Gonzaga College High School gym near Capitol Hill, following a presentation from the “Reopen D.C. Advisory Committee” about how various sectors can go back to business safely.
The city “will be in a posture to begin” reopening its economy, said Bowser. “Let me be clear about what this is and what it isn’t. It is not an on-and-off switch. We will not be able to go back to life as we enjoyed it in February,” she continued. “But we are incrementally adding activities back in our lives, which we all miss and are all eager to get back to.”
Thank you to all who contributed their time and recommendations to the ReOpen DC Advisory Committee.
ReOpen DC brings us all together to reopen with a plan based on science and tailored to the needs of our community.
— Mayor Muriel Bowser #StayHomeDC (@MayorBowser) May 21, 2020
The decision will depend on the trends observed in the data relating to coronavirus cases in the District throughout the weekend and whether those trends hold by the end of next week.
According to a report by the Reopen D.C. Advisory Committee, 64 percent of D.C. residents were supportive of a phased reopening.
The Committee’s proposed reopening plan stipulates that hotels and construction sites open with safeguards in the first stage. Restaurants can open outdoor seating with physical distancing and safeguards, while bars and nightclubs are closed. Non-essential retailers can only provide curbside and delivery service.
Barbershops and hair salons can also reopen in the first stage by appointment with strong safeguards and physical distancing (5 people per 1,000 sq. ft). Limited childcare may be allowed for children of site-critical workers, as well.
During the second stage, work from home will still be recommended but up to 25 percent capacity in office spaces will be allowed with distancing. Restaurants will be able to open indoor seating with physical distancing, safeguards, and up to 50 percent capacity, while bars and nightclubs remain closed. Non-essential retailers can reopen in-store, with safeguards and capacity limits (five people per 1,000 sq. ft not to exceed 50 percent capacity).
Personal services such as nail salons and massage spas reopen by appointment with strong safeguards. Additional childcare providers will be encouraged to reopen, limited to 10 people per room. Schools, colleges and universities also start to gradually reopen in the second stage.
Last week, Bowser extended the city’s stay-at-home order through June 8. As of Friday, May 22, the District’s death toll from the novel coronavirus stands at 418, with six additional COVID-19 related deaths.