- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 21, 2020

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday the District could begin a phased reopening as early as next Friday, as the city has recorded 11 of the 14 consecutive days of decline in community transmission required to ease coronavirus restrictions.

“It’s not an on and off switch,” Miss Bowser said at a press briefing. “We will not be able to go back to life as we enjoyed in February. But we are incrementally adding activities back in our lives, which we all miss and we are all eager to get back to.”

Miss Bowser said she anticipates announcing a revision of her stay-at-home order Tuesday, if the metrics for hospital capacity and community transmission remain steady to allow the implementation of phase one of her reopening plan.

The mayor’s Reopen D.C. Advisory Committee made public Thursday its report, recommending four stages of reopening in the District. The committee is co-chaired by former National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice and Michael Chertoff, former secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

For phase one, the committee recommends:

χ Gatherings be limited to 10 people.

χ Restaurants open for outdoor seating.

χ Retailers and libraries offer curbside pickup and delivery services.

χ Barbershops and salons reopen by appointment only.

χ Hotels and construction sites reopen.

χ Places of worship hold programs for 10 or fewer people.

χ Parks, fields, tennis courts and golf courses reopen, but playgrounds remain closed.

χ Child care centers reopen for children of critical workers with a capacity of 10 or fewer people.

“Now let’s be clear, we acknowledge that with reopening comes with incremental risks,” Mr. Chertoff said at the briefing. “This is about risk management, not risk elimination.”

The committee recommends that residents continue to telework, wear face coverings and maintain a distance of at least six feet throughout the first three stages of the reopening plan.

In phase two, gatherings are limited to 50 people, more businesses are allowed to reopen with limits on occupancy and child care centers are encouraged to take on more children, among other changes.

Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the D.C. Department of Health, said officials will monitor the rate of positive COVID-19 cases and look for continued decreases in community transmission over 14-day periods. Phase three requires only sporadic transmission of the virus.

Dr. Nesbitt said a good indicator of sporadic transmission is the ability to pinpoint how and when a person contracted the virus, which is what the health department was able to do in March when there were fewer cases.

The committee recommends the District enter stage four only when a vaccine or cure has been widely administered, at which point all activities will be allowed and the District will experience a “new normal.”

The Reopen D.C. committee’s recommendations come just before the start of Memorial Day weekend, which will have a different feel due to the public health emergency.

For the first time in 33 years, hundreds of thousands of motorcyclists won’t be riding through the National Mall to honor prisoners of war and those missing in action. Rolling Thunder announced last year it would not continue the traditional ride.

AMVETS said it would take up the cause, but announced earlier this month it would not sponsor a ride due to the coronavirus. Instead, the veterans advocacy group is encouraging its members to download a cellphone app to take a virtual 22-mile ride on Sunday.

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund is hosting a Memorial Day live ceremony online at 1 p.m. Monday and is offering virtual tours of the memorial and opportunities for people to send virtual notes.

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