More in DC eligible for COVID-19 vaccine; some safety rules to be relaxed

More people in D.C. are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, and some restrictions will soon be relaxed, Mayor Muriel Bowser said Monday.

Some of the changes regarding vaccinations:

  • People in Phase 1b Tier 3 and Phase 1c Tier 1, including postal workers, frontline transit workers and court workers, as well as people ages 16 to 64 with high-risk conditions, are eligible this week.
  • Starting March 29, those in Phase 1c Tier 2, which includes public transit workers, including ride-share drivers, logistics workers and media workers, will become eligible.
  • Starting April 12, people in Phase 1c Tier 3, which includes essential workers at colleges and universities, construction and information-technology workers, will become eligible.
  • By May 1, Bowser said, everyone 16 and older and not in a prior phase will be eligible.

“Given that we still have a limited vaccine supply,” D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt said, people who are eligible may start getting appointments during the week they become eligible, “but that is contingent on our vaccine supply.”

She said “we understand” that there will be enough vaccine in the U.S. by the end of May for every adult to actually receive their dose.

A slide describing changes in D.C.’s COVID-19 vaccine eligibility.
Plans as D.C. expands vaccine eligibility.

You can see all the tiers, and who is in them, on the D.C. vaccine site.

Some restrictions to be relaxed

Starting Monday, D.C. began considering waivers from professional sports teams to play in front of fans.

The Nationals will have fans for Opening Day on April 1 after Bowser’s office confirmed the approval of their application Monday evening. According to the acceptance letter, Nationals Park can have a maximum of 5,000 fans, which is 10% of capacity.

D.C. United was the first D.C. professional sports team to have its application for fans to return to Audi Field approved Monday afternoon. About 2,000 fans will be able to attend home matches once the Major League Soccer season beings. United’s home opener against New York City F.C. is scheduled for April 17.

Both teams were asked to focus on four key components as part of their reopening plans: directing fans to their seats and out of the stadium; minimizing any congregating around restrooms and other gathering places; prioritizing contactless and in-seat food service; and enforcing COVID-19 protocols set by the CDC and DC Heath, “especially mask wearing and social distancing.”

D.C.’s plans for professional sports in the coming weeks.

Other outdoor restrictions changes being made include:

  • Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are now allowed, and low- to moderate-contact high school and middle school sports can resume next week.
  • Indoor fitness classes can resume with up to 10 people, and outdoor up to 50. Gyms can have up to 25% capacity or up to 250 people, whichever is lower.
  • Alcohol can now be sold at restaurants until midnight, and movie theaters can open up to 25 people or 25%, whichever is lower.
  • Starting March 22, restaurants can open for indoor dining at 25% of capacity or up to 250 people.
  • Establishments can start applying for live-entertainment waivers; some live entertainment will begin next week, Bowser said.

In schools, Nesbitt said, cohorting is strongly encouraged to minimize the size of groups of students and staff who come into contact during the day. Other extracurricular activities are no longer prohibited, but it’s recommended that they be moderated to provide at least 10 feet of distance between participants.

D.C.’s plans to relax restrictions on indoor dining.

You can see all the new rules on D.C.’s website.

“We have not crushed this virus,” Bowser said. “People are still dying.”

She added, though, that “There are more and more things that we can do today, and there will be even more things that we can do … as we get later into the calendar — assuming that our numbers continue to go down. There’s hope; there’s reason to be optimistic.”

Vaccination numbers

Bowser said a bit more than 24,000 doses will be delivered to D.C. this week.

On Friday, D.C. sent 14,833 invitations for 13,360 appointments, and 10,879 people booked appointments. Another 3,115 invitations went out Monday so as to fill the available slots.

As of 11:59 p.m. Sunday, 114,815 people have preregistered and awaiting appointments.

Bowser added that new vaccination invitations will go out Thursdays at 10 a.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m. More invitations will go out Tuesdays at 10 a.m. if there are any left.

You can sign up to preregister at vaccinate.dc.gov, or call 855-363-0333.

Bowser said the public health emergency has been extended through May 20.


More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Rick Massimo

Rick Massimo came to WTOP, and to Washington, in 2012 after having lived in Providence, R.I., since he was a child. He went to George Washington University as an undergraduate and is regularly surprised at the changes to the city since that faraway time.

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