Officials in Virginia’s Arlington County are concerned about an uptick in coronavirus cases and some people openly defying police trying to enforce social distancing guidelines.
So, starting this weekend, the county will enforce a new ordinance in areas of Wilson Boulevard, Clarendon Boulevard and Crystal City.
Under the new rules, no more than three people at a time can stand in line outside a bar or restaurant.
County Manager Mark Schwartz said some people have openly defied official attempts to enforce social distancing rules. The new ordinance will allow police to fine people up to $100 for not complying.
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“I don’t want to sound overly dramatic about it, but this is not a game, you know we’re dealing with the public’s health,” Schwartz said.
The new ordinance does not cover every street in Arlington County, just areas near some bars and restaurants where there have been problems.
The areas are marked by signs and by markings on sidewalks.
In June, Arlington County’s seven-day coronavirus case load was at six daily cases. It has recently increased up to about 20 cases per day.
“We need to stop the spread of this disease, and it’s incumbent upon me and our public health staff, and I think incumbent upon the community to do whatever it is we have to do, to make our best efforts,” Schwartz said.
If the new ordinance does not work, county leaders said they might consider changing how late bars and restaurants can serve alcohol.
Currently, the cut-off time is 2 a.m., but it could be changed to midnight or even 10 p.m., following what some other local communities have put in place.
“I remain deeply frustrated over what I’m seeing in the community,” Schwartz said.