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THE NEWS:

Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Wednesday that D.C. will begin to gradually reopen beginning Friday, May 29. D.C. is moving to Phase One after the executive decided the city met four metrics DC Health set and announced May 13. 

“I call it stay at home light,” said Bowser during a press conference on Wednesday. “It means the stay-at-home order has been lifted and some activities have been added back to what we can do, but they are minimal.” 

The critical metric that officials say D.C. met on Wednesday relates to a 14-day decrease in community spread, or COVID-19 cases whose dates relate to when an individual starts experiencing symptoms, not when they get their test results back, and exclude cases in congregate settings. (Readers have asked City Paper why this data is not publicly available. When asked by WAMU about this on Tuesday, Bowser and her chief of staff said it was unlikely to be made public given that this data constantly fluctuates as it is based on a 5-day rolling average.)      

Phase One means restaurants can open to outdoor seating—although tables need to be at least six feet apart and no more than six individuals can be at a single table—and barbershops and hair salons can open by appointment only—no waiting inside the shop. “Nonessential” businesses can open for curbside service only, and parks, along with dog parks, can entirely reopen. More information about “open streets” is expected Friday.    

“During Phase One, individuals living in, working in, and visiting Washington, DC are no longer ordered to stay at their residences,” the order says. “When leaving their residence, all individuals must continue to maintain a distance of at least six feet from persons not in their household, except if such distance is impossible to maintain (such as when obtaining medical services or a haircut).”

Gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited. Read the full mayoral order here. Guidance on for each sector—from childcare to restaurants—is posted online. Residents should still wear masks or face coverings. Here’s a guide City Paper put together based on past government guidance about when to wear one: 

The metrics for reopening have changed over time. As City Papernoted in Monday’s newsletter, the Bowser administration said April 29 that D.C. needed to see its positivity rate below 5 percent for 14 days before moving to Phase One. But during a Sunday press conference, DC Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt denied ever indicating that D.C. needed 5 percent or below for Phase One. She added that the city’s positivity rate goals now vary for each phase: For Phase One, D.C. needs to see below 20 percent, and for Phase Two, D.C. needs below 15 percent. On Wednesday, Bowser described the metric relating to positivity rate as a recommendation discussed internally.  

A positivity rate below 5 percent isn’t the only metric officials dropped, as the Post reports. But like other local jurisdictions, the D.C. government is without much federal government support who’d typically be setting guidelines for it to follow. On Tuesday, Bowser said she has no interest in “cooking the books” and the executive has proactively released a lot of data related to the coronavirus. It’s true D.C. has released a lot of data compared to other localities, be it relating to hospitalizations or the race of COVID-19 infections and deaths.       

Bowser said she understands why folks are nervous about moving to Phase One. This is why we need to continue to do it safely, she said. “If the health data required it, we can turn down some activities or turn them up during the phases,” said Bowser when asked if she’d ever reinstate her original stay-at-home order. D.C. is expected to release benchmarks needed to move to Phase Two as early as Friday. —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com)

CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? agomez@washingtoncitypaper.com

  • On Wednesday, D.C. reported 5 additional deaths and 72 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of deaths to 445 and positive cases to 8,406. [EOM

  • Northern Virginia to begin Phase One starting Friday. Masks are required as the economy slowly reopens. [DCist

  • A 4-year-old girl is “fighting for her life” after being shot on Memorial Day. It’s one of many shootings over the weekend, three of which were fatal. [Post, Twitter]

  • American cities like D.C. were built for cars, but the pandemic could change that. [TNR]

  • Fire at Metro’s headquarters this a.m. [Twitter]

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

  • Members of Congress want Trump to cancel the Fourth of July celebration in D.C. [WAMU]

  • Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White faces three challengers. [DC Line, WCP]

  • A federal judge in Virginia will decide whether the state’s absentee voting plan is constitutional. [WTOP]

  • Mail-in ballot delays raise concerns in Maryland [Post]

  • Tech issues at the Board of Elections arise just hours before the deadline to request an absentee ballot in D.C. [Twitter]

  • The D.C. Lottery will launch its sports gambling app next month. [Post]

  • A student is suing Georgetown University over fees after classes moved online. [Georgetown Voice]

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

  • Meet Espita Mezcaleria’s masa queen, who’s up for a major award. [WCP]

  • Arlington restaurants can utilize parking lots, sidewalks for outdoor seating. [Washingtonian]

  • Reopening restaurants is risky. Why do it? [Eater]

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

  • What’s up with summer camp right now? [WAMU]

  • Here’s a quarantine-themed short story from local authorLouis Bayard. [Washingtonian]

  • How theatergoing could change in the different phases of D.C.’s reopening. [DC Metro Theater Arts]

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

  • Wizards star John Wall, who says he’s feeling “110 percent healthy,”is launching a charitable program to help Ward 8 residents pay rent. [WCP]

  • For the Nationals, “19-31” is not a reminder of their failures last year, but a badge of honor. [WCP]

  • The NHL has officially ended its regular season. The top 12 teams in each conference based on points percentage will qualify for the 24-team playoffs. Each conference will play in a yet-to-be-determined city. [NBC Sports Washington]

CITY LIGHTS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full newsletter here. Tips? esarappo@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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