DC Expects to Start Phase 2 Reopening on Monday If Trends Hold

Phase two would bring relaxed restrictions on indoor dining, playgrounds, nail salons and more

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Washington, D.C., is on track to start phase two of reopening on Monday if trends hold, which would relax restrictions affecting many public places and private businesses alike, Mayor Muriel Bowser says.

Restrictions on indoor dining, services at houses of worship, nail salons, playgrounds and more will be loosened under phase two, Bowser said Wednesday. Gatherings of up to 50 people will be permitted.

Indoor dining will be permitted at 50% capacity.

Playgrounds and fields will reopen with specific guidelines. League sports will not be allowed, but casual low or moderate contact sports will be permitted.

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Services as houses of worship could go on, but are capped at whichever is fewer: 50% capacity or 100 attendees. It's recommended those at houses of worship forgo singing and passing items around.

Nail salons and other personal service providers, such as tattoo parlors and tanning salons, can open to customers by appointment. Service stations must be six feet apart.

Gyms and fitness centers can open to 5 people per 1,000 square feet of space. Classes can be held with a 10-foot distance between participants.

Other nonessential retailers can let customers inside, up to 50% capacity.

Summer camps can open to groups of 10 or fewer. Some more child care facilities will be staffed. You can also expect libraries to slowly begin the process of reopening.

D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation pools can open for lessons and lap swimming, but not open swimming, at some point in phase two. That likely wouldn't happen until mid-July.

Rules for apartment building or private pools are being discussed, Bowser said.

While D.C. government will still encourage telework, certain offices will start to bring staff in.

There may be waivers available to gatherings larger than 50 people or activities such as a musical performance, Bowser said.

Bowser will provide a further update ahead of the June 22 target, she says.

The District is getting closer to the second phase of reopening as the rate of coronavirus spreading through the community continues to slow, but Bowser stressed there's still a risk.

"This virus is not gone. It is still here. It is still circulating," Bowser said.

Masking requirements are still in place for grocery stores, public transit and anywhere where social distance can't be maintained. Residents are encouraged to practice excellent hygiene and frequent handwashing.

As of Wednesday, the District had seen 13 days of sustained decrease in community spread of coronavirus during phase one, which keeps the city on track to move to phase two soon.

Fourteen days of decline in community spread is one benchmark for moving forward. Contact tracing is one measure that the city is ramping up.

Between 60 and 100 contact tracers will be trained and on-boarded next week, D.C. Health Department Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said.

The city has focused this week on expanding testing by collecting coronavirus test samples at fire stations across the city. Long lines were reported at these sites after officials urged anyone who attended Black Lives Matter protests to get a test.

So far, the testing hasn't uncovered a surge in new cases.

“We have been able to flatten our curve and our cases continue to decline,” the mayor said on Monday. “We have been doing it at the pace that the data says we should.” 

The community spread metric tracks how many people are known to have developed symptoms in the community — not in congregate settings such as jails, assisted living or shelters — on a given day. When the spread of cases in the community is down, it shows the virus is no longer rapidly spreading and the pandemic is being controlled, the city says. 

D.C. has seen “no reversal in declining trends,” Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said Monday. 

D.C. is still in reopening phase one, with mass gatherings limited to 10 people. Phase two reopening would lift some restrictions on restaurants, nonessential stores, salons and outdoor recreation. 

At least 9,847 people have caught the virus, D.C. says. At least 523 have died.

Black and African-American residents have died in disproportionate numbers, making up nearly three-quarters of the deaths despite representing about 46% of D.C.'s population.

Much of the D.C. area has already started phase two reopening.

Maryland as a whole is in phase two. Suburban Prince George's County started phase two on Monday evening. Montgomery County will start on Friday.

Northern Virginia has also followed the rest of the state into the second phase.

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