D.C. Looks to Begin Reopening May 29, Mayor Says

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At May 21 press conference, Mayor Muriel Bowser says D.C. could begin reopening on May 29. Georgetowner photo.

If the COVID-19 infection rate and mortality rate continue to decline, the District government could partially reopen Washington, D.C., on Friday, May 29, Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

With community spread of the disease declining for the last 11 days, D.C. looks certain to hit the 14-day mark that will allow a partial reopening — with the mayor revising her executive order that required people to stay home, with a few exceptions and other restrictions.

Accepting the recommendations by the ReOpen DC Advisory Group, Bowser and other D.C. officials examined the reopening requirements by stages with the ReOpen DC co-chairs, Susan Rice and Michael Chertoff, who linked in remotely to a May 21 press conference at Gonzaga College High School.

Reopening will begin in stages — 1, 2, 3, 4 — and will not be like “hitting an on-and-off switch,” Bowser noted.

“Stage 1 should begin once D.C. has experienced declining community transmission,” the ReOpen DC recommends. “DC Health is monitoring several gating criteria — including level of community spread, healthcare system capacity, testing capacity and public health system capacity — which should determine the timing of Stage 1.”

“D.C. should allow activities and business functions with low risk of transmission to reopen with strong safeguards in place to protect residents and businesses. Public and private gatherings should be limited to up to 10 people, and nonessential travel outside of the National Capital Region should be discouraged.”

According to ReOpen DC, Stage 1 also allows limited child care, select libraries with curbside service, limited worship services (10 persons), parks open but not playgrounds, hotels open with safeguards, restaurants open with outside seating and with physical distancing, barbershops and salons open (5 individuals per 1,000 square feet), curbside retail shopping and public transit with physical distancing.

Remaining closed in Stage 1: schools, summer camps, museums, large outdoor gatherings, indoor venues, gyms, pools and bars and nightclubs. Office work from home is strongly recommended.

Masks, social distancing, hand washing and staying home when sick will be the new normal — with everyone doing their part, according to the report, which adds that Stage 2 will require a reduction to localized transmission and Stage 3 to sporadic transmission.

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