By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor
Taking a page from the social media trend as cities reopen- those in the nation’s capital will soon be able to brag, “We’re Outside!” Washingtonians will be able to get back to some semblance of normalcy as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser is lifting most capacity restrictions on May 21 and everything will be fully open as of June 11.
With COVID-19 positivity rates and deaths continuing to decrease, Mayor Bowser made the announcement on May 10 as part of her regularly scheduled situational update.
“On Friday, May, 21 we will be turning on substantially more activity in the District and we anticipate three weeks following that, on June 11, that we will be able to turn on activity in the District all the way. So restrictions on public and commercial activity, including capacity limits, types of activities and time restrictions will be lifted, except for bars, nightclubs and large sports and entertainment venues, where we will have a capacity limit until June 11. On June 11, capacity limits and restrictions will be lifted on those venues as well,” Bowser said.
“Based on upcoming changes, D.C. Health will review its guidance documents and those guidance documents that are very specific about venues and activities and sectors will be replaced by more general guidance on business operations related to current mask and travel guidelines, disinfection and cleaning recommendations and how to report COVID-19 requirements,” the Mayor continued.
And while nightlife, entertainment venues and food establishments are certainly important to the nation’s capital and its residents, Bowser emphasized that these restrictions are also lifted far beyond merriment, but also apply to the workplace.
“These changes to restrictions not only relate to the entertainment venues and restaurants that we’ve been asked a lot about, but also workplaces- so if you’re an office building tenant, you should know that your employees can go back in their offices and that includes D.C. government offices,” the Mayor said.
In addition to workspaces, private home gatherings, libraries, museums, galleries, recreation centers, gyms, pools, schools and childcare will also allowed to fully operate without capacity restrictions.
District of Columbia Health Director Dr. LaQuandra explained that just because Washingtonians can enjoy spaces they haven’t been able to in over a year, does not mean that residents should not proceed with caution and know that they are participating in activities at their own risk.
“In this new phase,” Nesbitt said, “we’ll continue to have a risk mitigation approach, but it’s the public’s understanding of their risk if they participate in certain activities, with the knowledge of their own status of being vaccinated or fully vaccinated.
As of May 10, 23.9 percent of Washingtonians have been vaccinated and 37.8 percent have received partial vaccinations.
Nesbitt emphasized that despite these new relaxed guidelines, vaccinated and unvaccinated residents alike must adhere to safety precautions and mandates.
“So we’re still wearing masks, we’re still wearing masks on all federal transportation, we’re still wearing masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, and as the science around that improves, we’ll be able to make changes.”