Bowser Talks Travel Guidance, Phase Two Adjustments

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Mayor Bowser (D) speaks during the Nov. 23 situational update. Screenshot: Facebook Live.

In the Nov. 23 situational update, DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) provided updates on the District’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Today 139 new cases were reported in the District in addition to two deaths. The Mayor emphasized the importance of continuing to follow public health guidance to curb the spread of the virus. 

“We hope to help and guide Washingtonians in order to limit their exposure so that we can get the virus under control,” Bowser said. 

Testing and Travel Updates 

Effective today, Nov. 23, Nationals Park (16 N Street SE) has been added as a new testing site and will be open Monday through Friday 2:30-7:30 p.m. Additionally, the District is expanding hours for its firehouse testing locations. Sites previously open from 3:00 p.m to 7:00 p.m. will be open from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Morning and daytime sites (F Street, UDC-CC and Anacostia) will open half an hour earlier at 8:30 a.m. and continue to close at 1:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. 

Following Thanksgiving, Engine 4 (531 Sherman Avenue NW), Engine 8 (520 C Street SE), Engine 10 (1342 Florida Avenue, NE) and Engine 31 (4930 Connecticut Avenue NW) will be open on Sunday Nov. 29 from 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. 

Individuals do not need an appointment to get tested and are encouraged to preregister for testing at (coronavirus.dc.gov/register) to save time in line at each testing site. 

Bowser again encouraged all DC residents to remain home for the Thanksgiving holiday and reminded those who are traveling outside of the District to follow proper precautions upon their return from any state that is considered high-risk. Currently, Hawai’i is the only state exempted to this order. Mandated precautions include limiting activity for 14 days after travel or until a negative test is returned. 

Phase Two Updates 

Bowser announced several measures that would roll back previously established regulations in phase two as the District and the nation see spikes in cases. 

All non-essential, non-retail businesses are strongly encouraged to continue to telework. Additionally, outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people while indoor gathering will be limited to 10 people. 

Gyms, private trainers and personal trainers must suspend indoor training and group sessions. Outdoor group sessions must limit capacity to 25 participants. 

Additionally, restaurants will be allowed to remain open until midnight, but must stop serving alcohol at 10:00 p.m. Bowser said this is a result of “less compliance with the rules later into the evening.”

The adjustments to phase two will serve to flatten the curve and go into effect on Wednesday Nov. 25. 

Effective Monday, Dec. 14, all restaurants will reduce their maximum capacity from 50 percent occupancy to 25 percent occupancy. Bowser said the restaurant capacity will be reduced later to give owners ample time to “reduce their operations” as the pandemic continues. 

Small Businesses

Bowser expressed gratitude for businesses working to slow the spread of COVID-19 and encouraged DC residents to support these small, local businesses in any way possible. 

“Obviously many businesses and thus their employees are making efforts to limit the spread of the virus,” Bowser said. “Many businesses are going above and beyond to keep Washingtonians safe by modifying their services.”

Today the District launched the website (shopinthedistrict.com) to help residents shop with ease and learn about products and services available. 

Sarah Payne is a History and Neuroscience student at The University of Michigan interning with the Hill Rag. She writes for and serves as an assistant news editor for Michigan’s student newspaper, The Michigan Daily. You can reach her at [email protected]