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DC Phase 2 reopening: Here's what eating and shopping inside will look like

Owners have increased safety measures, and some have been able to make updates and renovations to their businesses.

WASHINGTON — To start the workweek, a variety of businesses and organizations will reopen in the District under Phase 2.

It has been nearly three months since retailers and restaurant owners were allowed to welcome customers inside their stores and restaurants. 

Here's what's changing and reopening for Phase 2 in the District:

  • Restaurants, non-essential retail and beverage establishments can open indoors at 50% capacity. Indoor dining must have tables six feet apart, with no more than 6 people to a table.
  • Gyms, yoga studios and dance classes can reopen with restrictions like having only 5 people allowed per 1,000 sq. feet and an emphasis on smaller group classes.
  • Movie theaters, entertainment venues are to remain closed.  Certain programs and events could reopen if the venue applies and is approved for a waiver. Live music would also need to be approved by a waiver.
  • Houses of worship, churches can resume at maximum 50% capacity, with choirs discouraged. 
  • Libraries can reopen at 50 percent capacity.
  • Pools: D.C. public pools will reopen for structured activities like lessons, lap swimming. The pools will not be reopened for recreational use beyond those structured activities until "likely mid-July."
  • Playgrounds can reopen.
  • Parks and fields may reopen for activities
  • Nail salons, tanning and waxing: Open by appointment only with stations at least six feet apart
  • Colleges and universities in D.C. can begin reopening, as long as they have submitted their reopening plan to D.C. Council.
  • Camps can reopen as long as there are no more than 10 people to a cohort.
  • DMV services: Starting Tuesday, residents will be able to enter the DMV to conduct driver's licenses services, vehicle registrations, and knowledge tests by appointment only.  All documents that expire on or after March 1 are still valid until mid-September, so there is no need to rush to the DMV, Bowser said. To set up an appointment, click here.


Retailers and certain other types of businesses under Phase 2 will have to limit waiting in their stores, and the use of personnel protective equipment (PPE) is required.

Business owners WUSA9 talked to said they have been forced to change their business models to focus on online sales and curbside pickups. And now they will be doing so again.

But while Phase 2 starts Monday, many have spent this weekend and the past few weeks updating their business models, along with taking steps to keep employees and customers safe.

Adam Mahr, the owner of luxury Georgetown gift shop A Mano, took the time while he was closed to renovate the inside of his store and the surrounding garden. 

"Because when we do open up, we just want it to look fresh. We want it to look clean, fresh, and really inviting," Mahr said.

He also is adjusting the store's layout to accommodate new safety precautions.

"We have a side door that we've put a doorbell and a camera, so we can kind of control how many people are coming in when we eventually do open," Mahr said. "And we're setting it up where we have a safe area where you would buy something at the cash register."

He doesn’t anticipate reopening the store for another couple weeks. And he's not alone.

RELATED: Phase 2 of reopening for DC will start Monday. Here's what's changing

It’s a similar story with Shop Made in D.C., which has three locations at The Wharf, Dupont Circle and Georgetown. Co-founder Stacey Price said they are not ready for Phase 2 yet.

"Every week to two weeks, we've made some pretty big shifts in doing business, and every phase of this is us launching a new business," Price said. "I don't know if the public understands that, or even our government officials when they start to say, 'You can reopen' -- but they are all brand-new businesses."

Price said they have been taking the process slowly throughout the pandemic. After closing all locations in March, they began the transition by shifting to all online sales. Then, a couple of weeks ago, she said they reopened The Wharf location for curbside pickup.

"We decided to pilot one location and then figure it out. It required us to build a new platform, technology platform. Our current one couldn’t handle it," she said. "We decided to split things up and do it a different way."

She said even though they’re allowed to invite customers back in starting Monday, her team will not be doing that. This week, they're focused on opening up the Georgetown and Dupont Circle locations to curbside pickup.

"Our No. 1 priority is to keep our staff and our customers safe," Price said. "We want to do the smartest thing for our business to live out our mission, which is to support, to grow D.C. makers and artists. We want to do that in a way that makes economic sense for us … and we want everyone to be safe. So we're taking baby steps here."

Price doesn’t anticipate letting customers back in their stores’ doors until mid-July.

If you’ve tested positive for COVID-19 in the District, contact tracers will need demographic information, health information, and risk factors to track and make contact with positive cases and close contacts, officials said. These are a part of the city's phase one goal and to control and prevent the spread of the virus.

D.C. Council has a full list of the requirements for waiver approval, as well as additional guidelines on waiver applications here.

When asked if it was too early to start Phase 2 reopening plans due to recent protests, which saw massive crowds around the area and likely will cause a spike in cases, Bowser said D.C. can always pull back from Phase 2 changes.

According to the latest data, D.C. has now been on a long-term downward trend since May 21. Officials said cases in D.C. jail have also seen a decline due to adequate testing.

RELATED: Museums can reopen during DC's Phase 2, but the Smithsonian is staying closed

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