Pinto, McDuffie Call on Mayor to Ease COVID Restrictions

On May 7, District Council members Brooke Pinto of Ward 2 and Kenyan McDuffie of Ward 5 called on Mayor Muriel Bowser to move quickly to ease COVID restrictions in D.C., given the indications that the pandemic is subsiding in the region.

“We write to request a broader reopening of the city and lifting of emergency restrictions,” they wrote to the mayor. “Vaccination rates are rising and rates of transmission are declining. The time is now to provide certainty for our residents and businesses which have sacrificed so much over the last 14 months.”

While Pinto and McDuffie urged continued vigilance against the spread of the coronavirus, they made an impassioned plea on behalf of their wards’ schoolchildren, families, workers and businesses, especially those serving visitors — even urging that restrictions on dancing at weddings be lifted.

“As we continue to urge all residents to get vaccinated, there are steps the city must take to instill confidence to bring back workers and visitors and revitalize our communities. Our child care services need to be able to expand capacity to support our families. Our children need to be able to play outdoor sports. Our restaurants need to be able to increase their capacity so they can hire workers and earn more revenue. Our hospitality industry has been crushed throughout this year and they need assurance of reopening so events and guests can be booked. Our entertainment venues need to be able to host events and allow patrons to dance at their weddings,” they wrote.

As the weakening of the pandemic stirs hopes of recovery, the District’s economy will suffer if its COVID restrictions continue to be more severe than surrounding jurisdictions, warned Pinto and McDuffie. “There is a shared sense of optimism that the vaccine has brought to our communities. Our neighbors in Maryland and Virginia have lifted restrictions to reflect the availability of vaccines while maintaining common sense orders to ensure public health. Due to these differences in restrictions, many are opting to bring their business to other jurisdictions to the detriment of District businesses and residents. As we plan for long-term recovery, we strongly encourage you to take steps to lift restrictions to energize our communities and provide assurance and confidence for our businesses,” they wrote.

Since May 1, the District has had “modified Phase Two” reopening parameters in place. Nonessential retail, gyms and fitness centers may operate at 50-percent capacity. Though restrictions on serving alcohol and presenting live music have been loosened, restaurants are limited to no more than 10 diners per table. Weddings, special events, conventions and businesses are limited to 25-percent capacity indoors, with social distancing required. Places of worship can operate at 40-percent capacity, indoor fitness classes can include up to 25 people and swimming pools can reopen with safety protocols in place.

More details on D.C.’s current restrictions are available HERE.


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