Phase 1 of #ReOpenDC Begins This Friday

Dear Resident,

Yesterday, Mayor Bowser announced that she issued a mayoral order to begin Phase 1 of #ReOpenDC tomorrow, May 29. 

What does this mean? Some nonessential businesses such as barbers and hair salons can serve customers by appointment only, and restaurants will be allowed to serve diners in a limited capacity in outdoor seating only. As well, residents will be able to use our public parks and some other public amenities. Gatherings of under 10 people are now permissible, so if you feel comfortable you can host non-household family and friends for a dinner party or gathering in your home. You can get more specifics by reading the reopening order.

While we need to start moving into recovery and resumption of economic activity, I remain concerned about the public health threat to our city. We have experienced 453 deaths of DC residents from coronavirus, and COVID-19 remains in our community. These are difficult decisions, and we need to make sure they are rooted in the best known practices of public health and accurate data. Like some of you, I have struggled to understand both the selection and calculation of the administration’s metrics governing how and when to reopen.  

I want to make a few reminders. Even though we will enter Phase 2 of reopening, social distancing is still extremely important. Although masks are only required in certain public settings such as supermarkets and public transportation, I strongly urge you to wear a mask when you are outside your home. And please continue to practice good hygiene by washing your hands and staying home if you feel sick. If you think you might have contracted COVID-19, please get tested and information on how to do that is below.

We continue to be in a public health emergency, but life does go on! Here are a few big-ticket ways you can participate and make our city a better place: 

  1. Vote! The deadline to request your absentee ballot has passed, but you can still vote safely by voting early at any of the District’s 20 Voting Centers! And if you did request and receive an absentee ballot, remember to mail it in by June 2! Please let me know if you requested a ballot and never received one.
  2. Participate in Discussions on Next Year’s Budget! Budget hearings are continuing, including for my Committee on Labor & Workforce Development! Scroll down to our budget section for more details, or click here for a full schedule of hearings. 
  3. Get involved with #ReOpenDC! The #ReOpenDC Committee released their first set of recommendations last week, but this process is still ongoing! Please reach out to my office, to other Council member offices, and to the mayor to share any thoughts or recommendations you have about how we can reopen safely and equitably.

Yesterday I asked the Bowser administration how we will determine whether to move to Phase 1. I was told those metrics are yet to be decided. Bottom line is that we need to safeguard the public’s health and protect our workers and residents.  If you have questions, thoughts, or recommendations regarding our reopening, please feel free to contact my office any time.

Stay safe and stay well, DC.

Elissa.


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CONSTITUENT Q&A 

Q. I received a US Bank ReliaCard for my Unemployment Insurance/Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, but I want the money to be direct deposited into my bank account. How do I get it changed?

A. You can request direct deposit by going to your DCNETWORKS account portal and changing your payment type selection. After selecting direct deposit, your next payment should automatically transfer.


PHASE 1 REOPENING

The Mayor's Phase 1 Order was based on recommendations of the ReOpen DC Committees and includes detailed guidance, though there are still some gray areas. Here are the big takeaways:

  • Non-essential retail businesses and libraries will be able to operate curbside or pickup operations.
  • Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs will be allowed to resume outdoor food service if they already have a permitted outdoor seating space so long as all tables are six feet apart with no more than six persons per table. Even if your business does not normally serve food, so long as you are partnering with a licensed food vendor, you will be allowed to resume patio service. Businesses are encouraged (but not required) to use a reservation system and gather contact information for all patio diners. 
  • Salons and barbers can reopen by appointment only and for hair services only. Waxing, nail care, and other salon services will not be allowed in Phase 1. 
  • Public parks and recreation facilities will partially reopen. Dog parks, golf courses, public parks, tennis courts, and track and field sites will reopen, but playgrounds, public pools, rec centers, and other Department of Parks and Recreation facilities will remain closed. Contact sports like basketball and football remain prohibited.

More details on each sector or group affected by the reopening order can be found below:

Right now, the metrics for moving from Phase 1 to Phase 2 are still being worked out. The Mayor plans to announce those metrics, which will be led by DC Health, next week at one of her press conferences. I hope that given the widespread concern and confusion regarding the Phase 1 reopening metrics, that the metrics for Phase 2 will be clearly communicated to the public and based in solid science. If you have questions, concerns, or recommendations regarding the Phase 1 reopening details or the reopening metrics, please feel free to contact my office any time.


SUMMER ACTIVITIES, SYEP, AND SCHOOLS

I’m sure a few District parents added new gray hairs last week when the Mayor announced that DC’s Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) would not offer in-person camp in early summer (and possibly not at all this summer), and that in-person school reopenings are still to be determined. I know how hard this time has been for our families with young children.

Here are the latest updates regarding schools, summer activities, and the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program (MBSYEP):

  • DPR will be offering Camp-at-Home at no cost for all District families, including a range of activities. If we are able to enter Phase 2 of the reopening, there is potential for limited, outdoor camps to resume later in the summer.
  • Private camps will not be allowed to open in Phase 1.
  • MBSYEP is going virtual! The program aims to place young people doing work such as literacy support for young learners, tech/IT, and occupational skills training. Organizations that would like to partner with the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program can go to http://summerjobs.dc.gov.
  • DC Public Schools (DCPS) will offer virtual summer school from June 22-July 24.
  • The first day of DCPS this fall – virtual or otherwise – will be Aug 31, 2020.
  • The Class of 2020 will be celebrated in virtual graduation ceremonies to take place in June.

VOTING

The deadline to request your absentee ballots has officially closed, but you can still #VOTESAFEDC by voting early at any of the District’s 20 Voting Centers! Everyone voting in person must wear a mask and socially distance. I have heard that many people had issues requesting an absentee ballot. If you applied for one but didn’t receive it, you can look up your application here, or let me know.  And don’t forget to mail back your absentee ballot if you got one! Click here for a full-sized version of the Vote Center map.

Helpful information for in-person voters:

  • General information: https://www.vote4dc.com/
  • Vote Centers: Open for the Primary Election from May 22 through June 2. On Election Day, Voting Centers are open 7:00am – 8:00pm. For all early voting days, they will be open from 8:30am – 7:00pm.
  • Same-day voter registration: Acceptable proofs of residence are listed here.
  • Mail-in ballots: Voters can drop off mail-in ballots at any Vote Center.

BUDGET

Hearings on the FY 2021 budget continue! My Committee on Labor and Workforce Development held our first hearing today for public witnesses. Twenty-three residents and advocates from across the District joined us virtually to talk about the importance of a modernized unemployment system, workforce development and youth opportunities, and paid family leave. Thank you to everyone who braved this new, digital frontier with us!

Our government witness hearing with the Department of Employment Services will be next Thursday, June 4 beginning at 9 a.m. This budget season is unlike any other, and it’s more important than ever that we hear from our residents about their priorities and needs. These are your tax dollars, and we need your input to make sure we’re putting them to the best possible use. 

Remember, each Committee will have a slightly different public engagement process, so be sure to check online for how to testify at and/or watch each. You are invited to submit testimony to my Committee via email (labor@dccouncil.us) or voicemail (202-455-0153) until June 8 at 5pm.

Important FY 2021 Budget Dates:

  • May 28: Labor and Workforce Development Public Witnesses Hearing
  • June 4: Labor and Workforce Development Government Witnesses Hearing
  • June 17/18: Final Committee of the Whole Public Witness Hearings
  • July 7: First vote on the FY 2021 budget
  • July 21: Second vote on the FY 2021 budget
  • July 28: Second vote on the FY 2021 Budget Support Act

Click here for a full schedule of all the FY 2021 budget hearings.

Want some helpful primers on the District’s budget process? Check out our Budget Office’s presentations on their new website!


CORONAVIRUS TESTING 

Two new coronavirus testing sites were announced this week, both opening on June 2. The new site at 2241 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE is replacing the former UMC testing site and should hopefully be much more accessible to District residents. The site on 5th Street NW is a brand new walk up site, and will be located between F and G Streets NW. 

CVS will also begin offering drive through, self-swab testing at several District locations very soon. I sincerely hope that these locations will be in our neighborhoods where testing is difficult or inconvenient – particularly in Wards 4 and 8 where there are many cases – and am looking forward to learning more when CVS makes a public announcement later this week. 

Testing for coronavirus continues to be available at public and private sites across the District. Click here for testing locations and more information.


UNEMPLOYMENT RESOURCES

As part of our ongoing efforts to get unemployed residents the resources they need, my office has created two new translations of our Unemployment Insurance (UI) Fact Sheet and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Fact Sheet: Spanish and Amharic. Please share these versions with any community members who might find them helpful!


SMALL BUSINESS STARTUP SUPPLIES

Are you a District business preparing to reopen? Would PPE supplies help you welcome customers more quickly? Check out this opportunity from the Department of Small and Local Business Development! The #DCHOPE Small Business Startup Supplies program is distributing sanitizing and PPE supplies to small businesses as part of the District’s Phase 1 reopening. 

These items come from DC’s Strategic Supply and will be provided by BIDs and Main Streets to support local businesses in their reopening preparations. Each Main Street and BID has their own process for taking requests, so be sure to contact yours for more details. If your business is not located in a BID or on a Main Street, you can still get PPE supplies! The Department of Small and Local Business Development will be posting a map on coronavirus.dc.gov later this week, which you can use to locate the nearest BID or Main Street contacts to your business.


RESOURCE ROUNDUP

  • Metro: Several stations will be closed this summer for platform reconstruction along the Orange and Silver lines. Click here to see which stations are affected and for alternate transit information. Also don’t forget that masks are now REQUIRED on all DC public transit!
  • Rental assistance: $1.5 million in assistance is available for tenant-based rental assistance to low-income renters through the Department of Housing and Community Development.
  • Wards 7 and 8 Small Business Microgrant Program: Applications close THIS FRIDAY for this expanded version of the DC Small Business Recovery Microgrant program. If your Ward 7 or 8 business did not receive funding in the first microgrant round, be sure to apply asap!
  • Educational / Academic Retail Shops (EARS) Pilot: The EARS pilot will grant waivers to local educational and academic retail shops, as well as to card shops, florists and sundries to do curbside and front door pickup. Click here to learn more and to apply online. 
  • Food access resources: Resources from DC Hunger Solutions are available here.
  • Greater DC Diaper Bank: The Greater DC Diaper Bank helps low-income families meet the need for diapers. Click here for more information.