What Phase One Reopening Means for You, Across the DC Area

"It’s not a party and we shouldn’t treat it like a party, or else we’ll be back to square one," D.C.'s mayor warned

NBC Universal, Inc.

You can now sit at an outdoor cafe, shop at your favorite boutique and take a run at a track in parts of the D.C. area.

After months of lockdown, coronavirus-related stay-at-home orders were officially lifted Friday in D.C., Northern Virginia and parts of Maryland. But officials are still urging residents to be cautious as the virus continues to spread. 

D.C. and Northern Virginia began lifting restrictions Friday. While Maryland as a whole eased some restrictions ahead of the weekend, Montgomery and Prince George's counties will hold off until Monday.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that while the beginning of phase one signals a gradual return to normal, we're still a long way from getting back to where we were.

“It is not a day of celebration. It’s a day of being able to do some things slowly and on a limited basis that we haven’t been able to do for 10 weeks," she said. "But it’s not a party and we shouldn’t treat it like a party, or else we’ll be back to square one."

A number of restaurants in D.C. served people outdoors. One diner said it felt “liberating.” 

In the Shirlington Village area of Arlington, Virginia, a couple that had planned to get carryout before heading on a weekend camping trip opted to sit down and savor a restaurant meal for the first time in months. 

“We decided, it’s a nice day so let’s just sit outside and pretend it’s OK, that everything is normal,” Katrina Mott said. 

Businesses welcomed their employees and customers back and got a chance to start digging out of a financial hole. 

“Truly this is almost like opening a new restaurant,” said Mauricio Molina, general manager of Shirlington Village restaurant Palette 22. “We are reinventing ourselves with our new look and we’re trying to do the best we can.” 

Nearby, Arlington resident Peter Greeves got his first haircut in months, which he said he “desperately” needed. 

After a while, he walked out with neat hair and a big grin. 

“It feels great. It’s nice to have a haircut again,” he said. 

In general, the first phase of reopening means that residents are no longer under stay-at-home orders, but health officials still urge social distancing. Businesses that open must implement safety procedures.

Coronavirus is still spreading through the D.C. area, so take precautions such as wearing a mask, keeping 6 feet away from others and frequently washing your hands. More than 100,000 people in D.C., Maryland and Virginia have now been diagnosed with the virus.

Phase one is designed to give residents more freedom and businesses more opportunities to make money, while still enforcing rules to slow the spread of coronavirus.

If you cross a street and end up in a different jurisdiction, those rules may quickly change on you. Here's a look at what phase one reopening means for you and your community.

Friday will be far from business as usual for D.C. business owners who are allowed to reopen. News4's Shomari Stone spoke to some of them who say they're excited, but also nervous about what's coming.

Washington, D.C.

Phase one reopening is underway in D.C., which lifted its stay-at-home order Friday.

Mayor Muriel Bowser which she said she thinks of this next step as “stay-at-home light.” Masks are required on transit, in rideshare cars, in grocery stores and anywhere you can't maintain a social distance.

Restaurants are allowed to serve people at outdoor seating. Tables must be at least 6 feet apart and no more than six people can be seated at one table. Customers must be seated when they place orders and when they are served.

If you go out to eat, you may be asked to leave your name and phone number so a restaurant can contact you in case of coronavirus exposure. Bars and nightclubs aren't allowed to open.

Barbershops and salons can serve customers by appointment only. Stations must be at least 6 feet apart. No waiting inside shops is allowed.

Parks, dog parks, golf courses, tennis courts, and track and field spaces are open. Contact sports including basketball, football and soccer are not allowed. Playgrounds, public pools and recreation centers are still closed.

Groups must still be limited to 10 people or less.

Houses of worship can only allow groups of 10 people or fewer.

Nonessential retail stores can offer curbside or front-door pickup. No customers are allowed inside, so gyms, yoga studios, florists and other businesses can't resume full, in-person services.

News4's Drew Wilder reports on what guidelines shoppers need to follow in Northern Virginia as the area starts phase one of reopening.

Northern Virginia

Northern Virginia waited longer than the rest of the state to ease restrictions but also entered phase one on Friday.

Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg and Vienna are set to catch up with the rest of the state in reopening.

The entire state of Virginia now requires masks in stores, restaurants and on public transportation. There are exceptions for children under 9, people who are exercising and people who have health conditions.

Parents in Virginia are looking to get their families outdoors, but they say it’s hard to make sense of why some places are open for phase one while others remain closed. Northern Virginia Reporter Drew Wilder shows what’s available this weekend.

Under phase one, restaurant and beverage businesses can operate with outdoor seating at 50% capacity, if they have permits for outdoor seating. Nonessential retail stores can operate at 50% occupancy. And places of worship can offer services at 50% capacity.

Public beaches can open to fishing and exercise as well as other recreational activities but group sports, alcohol, tents and gatherings larger than 10 are not allowed.


The state of Maryland fully entered phase one Friday but some counties are choosing to move at a slower pace.

Maryland has already allowed, with restrictions, retailers to reopen, churches to hold services and haircut appointments to be made. Restaurants and social organizations can open public dining. Youth sports and day camps can start with limited group sizes. Outdoor pools can open with 25% capacity.

Prince George's County announced they will begin a phase one reopening for Monday. News4's Prince George's bureau chief Tracee Wilkins reports.

Both Montgomery and Prince George's counties announced plans to begin phase one reopenings on Monday. For now, those counties will adhere to tighter rules than the rest of the state.

Both will follow some of Maryland's general guidelines, including lifting the stay-at-home order, allowing curbside pickup at nonessential retail stores and haircuts by appointment.

Patio or outdoor dining will be allowed, with social distancing rules in place.

Child care for essential workers and those who open businesses can also be available. Automatic car washes and manufacturing can commence.

There are a few differences.

The county executive announced Montgomery County will open Monday at 6 a.m. Protestors were unhappy during the Thursday press conference. News4 Chris Gordon reoports.

Montgomery County says phase one begins at 6 a.m. Monday. Summer camps and outdoor youth sports will be permitted, with restrictions on capacity.

Prince George's county will begin phase one at 5 p.m. Monday. Youth sports and summer camps cannot yet reopen.

Contact Us