Arlington County police will enforce social distancing in the nightlife area of Clarendon starting Friday and violators will be issued fines of up to $100 after a weekend-long warning period.
County Manager Mark Schwartz said he was “deeply frustrated” to see people congregate outside bars and restaurants as the coronavirus continues to spread in the community.
“There is community-wide transmission of COVID-19 in the National Capital Region, including Arlington. Groups of people congregating increases the risk of spread of the virus,” the county said in a statement.
News4's Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey has been covering this side of the state since joining NBC4 in 1992. She's joined by reporter Drew Wilder.
A county ordinance requiring physical distancing on sidewalks went into effect on July 31. A public education began and now enforcement will follow.
Pedestrians are prohibited from gathering in groups of four or more people on streets, sidewalks and in public spaces, and must keep a distance of at least 6 feet from others at all times. There is no exception for members of the same family or household. Go here to see the ordinance.
Enforcement will start Friday in the blocks surrounding the Clarendon Metro station. Police, county officials and people who submitted online complaints flagged this area. The county expects to enforce the rules in other areas soon.
Enforcement will focus on the 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. period.
The county will focus on public education and voluntary compliance but verbal and written warnings for “observed infractions” will be issued starting Friday. Then, violators are subject to fines of as much as $100 after the “weekend warning period.”
Arlington has tallied more than 3,400 cases of COVID-19. More than 450 have been hospitalized and at least 138 have died.
University of Virginia researchers estimate that Northern Virginia will see a surge in new cases this fall.