Washington DC announces phase 2 reopening starting Monday

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation’s capital is moving ahead with the second phase of its reopening Monday, as city officials credited months of social restrictions with blunting an anticipated spike in COVID-19 infections.

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that playgrounds, libraries, gyms and nail salons in Washington, D.C., will be able to reopen on a limited basis. All nonessential businesses will be allowed to let customers inside at up to 50% capacity. Restaurants will be able to seat diners indoors, also at 50% capacity.

Theaters, cinemas and concert venues will remain closed but they can apply for a special waiver from the District government. Public pools will be reopened on a limited basis, although Bowser said earlier this week that it may take a few weeks to properly prepare the facilities.

Indoor gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed. Houses of worship can hold services for 100 people or 50% capacity — whichever number is smaller — but Bowser said the city’s health department is recommending that choirs not yet perform.

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District of Columbia health officials originally laid out a dire prediction model that saw the virus peaking sometime in July and as many as 100,000 Washingtonians infected by the end of the year. As of Friday, the total number of positive infections in Washington stood at 9,952 with 530 deaths.

Bowser credited months of stay-home orders and social distancing with helping blunt the infection curve. She has warned that the encouraging numbers do not mean the virus threat is gone, and said the city has the right to “turn up or turn down” the restrictions based on the medical data.

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