Washington D.C. to begin phase 2 of reopening next week

Washington D.C. will begin the phase two of reopening on Monday after the “city experienced 15 days of sustained decrease in community spread of COVID-19” during the first phase, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced.

The new phase, according to the mayor’s order on Friday, will allow non-essential retail stores to reopen and indoor dining to occur, both with 50 per cent capacity limits, reports Xinhua news agency.

Gyms can reopen with certain limitations, while gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed.

People are still encouraged to wear masks when around others and stay six feet apart.

“Wearing a mask or face covering is one tool to protect an individual’s own health and the health of others, but it does not replace social distancing,” the order read.

There were 49 new positive coronavirus cases in the city on Thursday, bringing the number of its total cases to 9,952.

As of Friday, five counties were in Phase 1, 19 in Phase 2 and 15 in Phase 3 of the Washington state’s Safe Start Plan.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee, in collaboration with the state Department of Health, established a data-driven approach to reopen the state and modify social and recreational activities while trying to minimize the health impacts of COVID-19 on May 29.

The state will move through the phased reopening county-by-county, allowing for flexibility and local control to address COVID-19 activity geographically.

Businesses approved to move into a new phase must comply with all health and safety requirements outlined in the guidance to reopen.

This approach reduces the risk of COVID-19 to Washington’s most vulnerable populations and preserves capacity in the health care system, while safely opening up businesses and resuming gatherings, travel, shopping and recreation, according to the state Department of Health.

Each county must demonstrate they have adequate local hospital bed capacity as well as adequate PPE supplies to keep health care workers safe to start the reopening process.

The ideal target for new cases will be 25 or fewer per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period. Hospitalizations for COVID should be flat or decreasing.

Requests to move into the next phase are reviewed by the secretary of health.

If circumstances change within the jurisdiction, the secretary of health can modify the current phase or move the county back into an earlier phase.

A county can also identify when they need to return to an earlier phase or eliminate approved activities, the state Department of Health said.

The state of Washington has so far reported 27,192 COVID-19 cases, with 1,245 deaths.