The Alexandria Health Department on Friday, May 28, is launching a new accreditation program for businesses to make visitors feel safe.

That’s the day that Governor Ralph Northam is lifting all COVID-19 restrictions throughout Virginia.

The ALX Promise Gold program is the new version of the ALX Promise program, which launched in May 2020 and required business owners and staff to undergo health safety training. More than 450 businesses participated.

“The ALX Promise program really helped to reassure the community and people that were coming into our community that we were a safe place to come,” said Rachel Stradling, an environmental health manager with the AHD. “We really want to make sure that we continue that momentum this summer, while reassuring people that our businesses are still doing the right thing.”

Stradling continued, “Yes, we may be open at an increased capacity, but we want the community to have reassurance that these businesses still really care about the community’s health.”

The new program is being launched in a partnership with Visit Alexandria.

Nearly 70 businesses have already signed up to participate in the new 45-minute class, which updates business owners and staff on the latest updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Businesses must also pledge to report any new coronavirus cases, allow staff to get paid time off to get vaccinated, and maintain sanitation practices.

Some businesses, like fibre space in Old Town, are continuing to ask customers to wear face masks inside, while other big chain stores like Target and Wal-Mart have eliminated mask and distancing requirements.

“We obviously want every business to participate in the program,” Stradling said. “This really is the gold standard. It’s asking you to report every case, it’s asking you to give people paid time off to get vaccinated and we understand that that may be challenging to some businesses. But we really want to encourage as many businesses as possible to participate, and they will get an awesome new decal, which is a really pretty gold color and really stands out.”

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