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The D.C. Council unanimously passed emergency legislation on Tuesday to address the hardships that come with the global coronavirus pandemic. The package provides some relief to businesses, workers, and renters, but lawmakers concede that what was passed is not nearly enough. When this is all over, there will be a significant economic downturn. D.C. could see its unemployment rate jump to upward of 20 percent

Here’s most of what made it in the emergency package

  • Expands eligibility for unemployment insurance to workers who’ve been laid off because of COVID-19 and to most self employed or independent contractors. Also, it removes the  one-week waiting period. (Here is how to apply.)

  • Extends protections under the Family Leave and Medical Act to those who have to stop working due to the novel virus. 

  • Prohibits evictions, late fees, or utility shut-offs 

  • Maintains eligibility for public benefit programs like Healthcare Alliance, TANF (cash assistance), and SNAP (food assistance). 

  • Creates a small business grant program. (Here is how to apply.)

  • Limits price gouging and stockpiling. 

  • Allows restaurants to sell alcohol for takeout. 

Attorney General Karl Racine will be enforcing the package that the Council passed in what is likely its last in-person legislative meeting in awhile. City Paper’sMitch Ryals was there to document the unprecedented moment.  

“It only took a global pandemic to bring two reliably adversarial branches of the D.C. government into agreement,” writes Ryals. “But the afternoon, while predictable, was not devoid of a bit of excitement. That came courtesy of Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray, who lobbed two last minute amendments that caused [Chairman PhilMendelson to bristle.” 

One had to do with the District’s troubled public hospital and another with private health care providers. Read the rest of the story to learn more. —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? Email agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)    

CITY DESK LINKS, byAmanda Michelle Gomez:

  • The day after Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency over the global coronavirus pandemic, D.C. government workers cleared encampments in Dupont Circle that neighbors called and complained about. [WCP]

  • Restraining orders in domestic violence cases extend through April due to the public health emergency, and other D.C. court information residents should know. [WCP]

  • As of March 17, 170 D.C. residents have been tested for the illness COVID-19 in public and private labs and 31 of those individuals have tested positive. The city’s update included nine new cases—a notable increase and expected given the new commercial testing labs—including a 23-year-old who attended CPAC. [EOM

  • Coronavirus is already causing industry-wide layoffs. [DCist]

  • WMATA scales back services, encouraging people to just stay at home. It’s working; ridership was down by 79 percent on Tuesday. [WUSA9, Twitter]

  • Stores like Safeway, Target, and Whole Foods are reserving hours so older and immunocompromised people can shop. [Post

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • Virginia bans gatherings of 10 or more in restaurants; Maryland postpones its primary election to April. [Post]

  • D.C. already lost $60 million in revenue. [Yahoo!]

  • D.C. Tenants Union calls for two-year freeze on rent increases. [WAMU]

  • With the hospitality industry halted, D.C. CFO Jeff DeWitt warns of hundreds of millions in lost revenue and a spike in unemployment. [WTOP]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes (tips? lhayes@washingtoncitypaper.com) 

  • You were planning to open a restaurant this spring, now what? [WCP]

  • Bowser is singling out restaurants and promoting their take-out food on Twitter, including campaign donor Martin’s Tavern. [Twitter]

  • D.C. bars and restaurants can now sell beer, wine, and spirits via delivery. [Washingtonian]

  • Is it safe to order delivery during coronavirus social distancing? [Eater]

ARTS LINKS, byKayla Randall (tips? krandall@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • Here are ways to support local indie booksellers during the time of coronavirus. [Washingtonian]

  • The Kennedy Center extends its closure into May as more local theaters postpone upcoming shows. [Playbill]

  • The Helen Hayes Awards move to Aug. 24. [DC Theatre Scene]

SPORTS LINKS, byKelyn Soong (tips? ksoong@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • City Paper writers will be looking at the different ways D.C. is working out while social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Up first, yours truly attempts to do a virtual strength and circuit training course. [WCP]

  • Kevin Durant is one of four Brooklyn Nets players who have tested positive for COVID-19. [CNN]

  • The Post named its 2020 Winter All-Met teams, which honor the best high school athletes in the D.C. area for the winter season. [Post]

  • Linebacker Thomas Davis is reuniting with coach Ron Rivera in D.C. [NBC Sports Washington]

CITY LIGHTS, byEmma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full To Do This Week newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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