Washington, DC, to lift stay-at-home order on Friday

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced Wednesday that the city will lift its stay-at-home order on Friday and enter phase one of reopening.

Bowser said that the virus is still circulating but said the city had met its metrics of a 14-day decline in community spread of the virus as well as adequate testing and hospital capacity. 

Under the order, nonessential retail businesses can open for curbside pickup and hair salons can open for appointments only. Restaurants can serve diners outdoors if they already have outdoor seating and tables are 6 feet apart. 

Gatherings of more than 10 people are still banned, and Bowser encouraged people to continue staying 6 feet apart, wearing masks when around others and washing hands frequently.

“I want to clarify this,” Bowser said. “COVID-19 is still in our community, in our region, in our nation, and the public health emergency will continue.”

She acknowledged that there are risks of an uptick in infections with reopening.

“More people can get infected because now more people will be moving around in the community,” she said. 

D.C. has moved slower than many other places in the country in lifting its restrictions, but it has also been hit hard by the virus.

Just last week, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Deborah Birx warned that the D.C. metro area had the highest positivity rate of its tests of anywhere in the country, a warning sign about high levels of infection.

While new cases have generally been declining, the city did see an uptick over the Memorial Day weekend. Instead of resetting the clock on the 14-day countdown back to zero days, though, officials paused the clock and then continued counting when cases again started to decline, allowing for the reopening to occur this week.

Bowser expressed confidence in the city’s testing ability, saying more than 5,500 people per day can be tested and that another testing site will soon open downtown.

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