Days after D.C. reinstituted a mask mandate due to rising COVID-19 cases, Mayor Muriel Bowser joined officials at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center to announce that the center — and several new businesses, including a new location of Ben’s Chili Bowl — are now open.
The convention center will host two events in August, and Bowser was asked about the timing of the reopening.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s current numbers, D.C. falls in the “substantial” category for the level of transmission of the coronavirus.
“It is always a good time to talk about our city, to talk about our destination, and to talk about everything that people can enjoy here,” Bowser said.
She said it is known that Americans are traveling and many of them are trying to decide where they want to go, and she made it clear that D.C. is open for their business.
“We have a number of protocols in place,” to protect visitors — from temperature monitoring to social distancing, Greg O’Dell, CEO of Events DC which operates the convention center, said.
O’Dell said the recently reinstated mask mandate has been a positive.
“Our customers actually take a lot of comfort in that,” he said.
Virginia Ali, the co-founder of Ben’s Chili Bowl, said opening a location at the convention center was a dream come true for her family.
“When Ben and I opened the Chili Bowl 63 years ago, I had no idea that we would do anything more than open a business and raise a family.”
She thanked the community for its support, and as any astute business owner added, “We think you’ll really enjoy our chili-half smokes, as well!”