Alexandria, VA

Alexandria’s Mayor Justin Wilson said the city could be ready to move into Phase 2 of reopening next Friday — if the city’s gradual COVID-19 recovery continues.

While the rest of Virginia is scheduled to start moving into Phase 2 of reopening tomorrow (Friday), Northern Virginia has to wait.

“We will not be in Phase 2 this week,” Wilson said in a virtual town hall yesterday (Wednesday). “The rest of the commonwealth will move into Phase 2 on Friday. We would not move into Phase 2 until, at the earliest, the following week — next Friday. Ultimately, we will have to see where the data goes before we determine when to move into Phase 2.”

Wilson said while some are pushing to move into Phase 2 as soon as possible, there’s also been pushback on moving forward at all with increasing numbers from testing. Wilson reiterated that the point of a phased reopening and flattening the curve is to control outbreaks and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed, which are eventualities Inova Alexandria says it is ready for.

The first phase has allowed some restaurants and service businesses to start reopening with restrictions to keep staff and customers healthy. Wilson said Phase 2 is essentially an expansion of that framework with some new businesses and locations allowed to reopen.

“The Governor released last week his Phase 2 guidelines,” Wilson said. “This is how businesses operate in Phase 2. It’s long. Some of the highlights are it would allow restaurants to operate indoors at 50% capacity. That’s probably the biggest change we’d see.”

The second phase or reopening could also allow swimming pools and summer camps to reopen, Wilson said. Regarding earlier discussions around reopening playgrounds, Wilson said those are still not included in Phase 2 of reopening but the city would continue monitoring guidance from the Center for Disease Control to see if that changes.

The ban on evictions has been extended another two weeks, Wilson said, but could resume once the courts start to reopen during the second phase.

“The courts have been closed since March,” Wilson said. “That has meant any evictions filed have been put off until courts reopen. That has been extended another two weeks. That means evictions have been continued to be put off, for now.”

Wilson said there is a significant backlog of cases and said evictions will be at the end of that line, meaning the earliest those would take place would likely by September or October.

Staff photo by James Cullum

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