As Infected Toll Rises, City Frustrated With Defiance of Social Distancing Restrictions

A busy and bustling Old Town isn’t usually a cause for concern, but during Mayor Justin Wilson’s town hall last night (Thursday), several people said they’ve been alarmed at seeing large numbers of people going around with business as usual in Alexandria.

The continued travel correlates with the increasing amount of new cases popping up in Alexandria, with roughly 50 new cases popping up per day over the latter half of this week. One commenter during the town hall said Old Town looked like a fair last weekend.

Wilson said he’s seen lots of concerns and complaints about this, but said that the city government doesn’t have the ability to impose a mask requirement or restrictions beyond those imposed by the state government.

“The city has encouraged [their] use,” Wilson said, “but requiring would have to come from Richmond.”

City health officials have said social distancing has helped slow the spread of the virus, but the death toll continues to rise and Dr. Stephen Haering, the city’s health director, said the virus hasn’t hit its peak in the city yet.

“We certainly still get complaints about situations where people are not being socially distanced and in crowds,” Wilson said. “If you see people violating the governor’s order, certainly the part about crowds of 10 or more… call 703-746-4444 and they will address it.”

Wilson said early on there were lots of calls for service associated with violations of the governor’s order, but that it’s subsided quite a bit over the last few weeks.

“[That’s] a testament to people heeding the warnings,” Wilson said. “But if you see it, we’ll address it.”

Staff photo by James Cullum

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