County Approves Ordinance to Facilitate “Phase One” Reopening

Supervisor Pat Herrity | The Herrity Report

Today the Board approved an emergency ordinance that temporarily allows businesses offering outdoor dining, outdoor fitness, and exercise activities to expand outdoors into parking lots at 50 percent of their indoor capacity without a permit or going through a zoning process. As businesses look to implement new health safety requirements and begin to recover tremendous losses from the past months, this ordinance will ease their burden so they can focus on getting their employees back to work and keeping their customers safe. I was happy to support this staff-driven initiative to give our businesses relief.

The emergency ordinance also temporarily allows businesses to utilize private roads and some parking spaces to allow for expanded outdoor service, provided they receive landlord approval. Restaurants, gyms, and other fitness centers will also be able to set up tents under 900 square feet without a permit and permitting fees for tents larger than 900 square feet will be waived. A health requirement in the ordinance requires businesses using tents to open all sides of the tent to allow airflow, greatly reducing the risk of virus transmission. I clarified for the record that the ordinance also temporarily waives the parking requirements, with the exception of available handicapped parking.

I was glad to see this ordinance come before the Board to support our business community and maintain public health guidelines after our businesses were delayed in reopening with the rest of Virginia. Last week, I shared my support in a letter to Governor Northam asking him to allow business operation and religious organizations in Northern Virginia to open if they can abide by health guidelines by staying outside. Reducing the need for permits should ease the burden on our businesses as they try to meet health guidelines and recover. To read more details on the emergency ordinance you can visit here. Businesses in Fairfax County will also be required to abide by Phase One precautions such as limiting outdoor activity capacity to 50 percent of an establishment’s lowest occupancy load, social distancing for tables not of the same party, and not accepting parties of more than 10 people (see full details here).

As we move into Phase One, many places that were previously closed will be allowed to reopen if they can abide by health requirements. This includes barbershops, salons, non-essential small businesses, and religious organizations. As I mentioned in my last newsletter this is not an opening of the floodgates, but a small and very limited step to keep customers safe while businesses reopen. Residents need to continue to exercise caution while in public places. Phase One still encourages social distancing, limiting gatherings to under 10 people, teleworking, and as of Tuesday, it requires masks for all indoor establishments. For those at higher risk due to age or previously existing conditions, it is still recommended to limit contact with others and stay home. I encourage you to read the full details of Phase One here.

While it has been a very tough couple of months in our community and around the world, Virginia is taking small steps toward recovering in many different ways and it is good to see Northern Virginia finally doing so as well. My hope is that from now on we stay on track to move into Phase Two with the rest of Virginia as our testing increases, and hospitalizations decrease.

Republican Pat Herrity represents the Springfield Magisterial District on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. To subscribe to The Herrity Report, click here.

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