The District shut down the Wharf Fish Market (11 Maine Ave. SW) early Sunday morning after crowds packed the site Saturday, despite a District-wide order to stay at home.
“Our first priority is the safety of the residents,” Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) Director Ernest Chrappah wrote on Twitter. “The fish market is shut down until an acceptable social distance plan is submitted to DCRA.”
The market is closed until April 24, or until such a plan is submitted by the businesses and approved, officials said.
— John J. Falcicchio #StayHomeDC (@falcicchio) April 5, 2020
Photos of crowds at the market Saturday went viral, as hundreds of people stood in much closer proximity than the 6 feet recommended to slow the spread of the virus.
On social media, residents said that the markets themselves had tried to implement social distancing measures to shoppers, including hiring security officers and using signs and tape to guide people standing in line, but these were ignored by shoppers.
They did. I saw it. And no one followed it. I left cuz I had some sense. This is the public’s fault. Not those businesses. They had signs, cops and 6ft tape lines on the ground just like the grocery store. No one paid them any attention.
— J. D. Loading (@vanriessa) April 5, 2020
Calling the closure the ‘right move’ in a tweet, Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6-D) said that he discussed enforcement with MPD after seeing photos of Saturday crowds. “#StayAtHomeDC order isn’t optional; it’s for everyone’s health,” he said. “What we saw was unacceptable and dangerous.”
While the Fish Market has been temporarily closed, most of The Wharf remains open. Many other businesses at The Wharf will remain open going forward to provide essential service, inclduing delivery and carryout from restaurants.
“The neighborhood is open for essential access to homes and essential businesses,” said Bob Rubenkonig, Executive Director of The Wharf Community Association. However, we have closed off public access to avoid congregations on District Pier, Recreation Pier and Market Pier.”