Reston, VA

Fairfax County announced today (Wednesday) that it will start rolling back some COVID-19 restrictions on Friday (May 29).

The announcement follows Gov. Ralph Northam saying yesterday (Tuesday) that Northern Virginia localities are ready to join the rest of the state with the first reopening phase.

“The Forward Virginia plan provides guidelines that all businesses must follow in the first phase but eases previous restrictions on restaurants, fitness facilities, barbers and beauty salons, other retail businesses and houses of worship,” according to the county.

Here’s what will happen in Fairfax County starts reopening on Friday:

  • movie theaters, concert halls, bowling alleys, indoor entertainment will stay closed
  • social gatherings of more than 10 people will still be prohibited
  • “safer at home” recommendation will still be in place
  • restaurants may reopen at 50% of indoor capacity with tables spaced 6 feet apart
  • restaurants’ bars will remain closed
  • restaurants must use disposable menus and require servers to wear face coverings
  • gyms, recreation centers, sports centers and pools may open outside
  • indoor pools and spas and outdoor basketball and racquetball courts will stay closed
  • salons and barbers can open at 50% capacity and require appointments
  • retailers may reopen at 50% capacity and employees must wear face coverings
  • houses or worship may hold services at 50% capacity, face coverings encouraged

joint letter sent Monday from officials in Northern Virginia, including Fairfax County, said that their health directors’ assessment of the pandemic supports the partial reopening.

“[The public health directors] have noted the regional attainment of four of the critical metrics and assessed the need for continued focus on expanding our contact tracing capacity and developing sustainable supplies of PPE,” the letter said.

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The number of COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County surpassed 10,000 today (Wednesday). But the trajectory of cases appears to be on the decline as Northern Virginia gears up for phase one of its reopening plan on Friday.

According to data released by the state’s health department, a slowdown in the number of new cases emerged this week. Public health experts determine the trajectory of COVID-19 by charting the total number of confirmed cases against new confirmed cases per week.

Additionally, the number of new cases per week has decreased. In the first two weeks of this month, the county saw a weekly case count of between 1,200 and 1,300 cases. Last week, that number dipped to around 1,000 new cases.

Still, 365 people in the county have died from the respiratory illness. On Monday, a record number of new cases — 493 — was reported. Since then, the number of new daily cases dipped to 357 yesterday (Tuesday) and 230 today.

As the state’s testing capacity has expanded, the number of positive cases has also declined slightly since the week of April 19, county data show.

Overall, 40,439 cases have been confirmed statewide, resulting in 1,281 deaths. A surge in testing partly explains the increase in the number of cases reported daily on Monday and Tuesday.

Northern Virginia continues to account for a majority of cases.

Photo via CDC/Unsplash

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A local nonprofit organization will host a town hall with Fairfax County officials to discuss issues of resilience and recovery as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cornerstones has planned the virtual event for Monday, June 8 from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn and Dranesville District Supervisor John Foust are signed on as panelists, as well as Fairfax County Public Schools’ board members Melanie Meren (Hunter Mill District) and Elaine Tholen (Dranesville District).

Residents are invited to join the conversation about the county’s plans to rebuild economic stability and ensure the most vulnerable residents have the resources they need to regain independence and security.

The following topics will be discussed:

  • Affordable housing
  • Extending tenant rights through recovery
  • Family resiliency and sustainability after the crisis
  • Learning loss and the digital divide
  • Getting back to work and a living wage
  • Opportunity Fairfax and the COVID-19 divide

The facilitators are Casey Veath, principal of Veatch Commercial Real Estate; Tracey White, Vice President of Reston Hospital Center; and Kerrie Wilson, CEO of Cornerstones.

Members of the public can email their questions for consideration to [email protected]. Submissions must be received by Friday, June 5.

The meeting will take place via Zoom. Participants can register online.

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After closures promoted by COVID-19, golf courses around Reston and Herndon are starting to open back up with precautions.

The Herndon Centennial Golf Course, which has been closed since March, announced via press release that it will reopen today (May 27).

People looking to book a timeslot should reserve and pay online, the press release said, adding that only credit cards will be accepted and people may not use rain checks, gift cards or discounts at this time.

Due to social distancing suggestions, “the clubhouse, restrooms and Egg Karne Café will remain closed until further notice,” according to the press release.

The Reston National Golf Course remains open for guests but with altered requirements, according to the website.

Changes include face shields and new cleaning protocols for staff, removal of indoor seating, discounts for those who walk the course rather than use a golf cart, elimination of cash payment and elimination of walk-up reservations, the website said.

For members wishing to play at Hidden Creek Country Club, both the golf courses and tennis courts are open, the website said. But, the clubhouse will remain closed until further notice with the exception of take-out food.

Photo via Reston National Golf Course/Facebook

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Confusion Over Governor’s Mask Order — “At a briefing this afternoon, Gov. Ralph Northam emphasized that Virginia’s new indoor mask requirements weren’t intended to be criminally enforced. But the text of the order (released ~3 hours later) defines a violation as Class 1 misdemeanor.” [Virginia Mercury]

Police Arrest Naked Man in Parking Lot — Local police have arrested an Ashburn man who was running through a parking lot on the 2400 block of Centreville Road on May 22. Carlos Ashe, 35, was arrested and charged with indecent exposure and drunk in public. [Fairfax County Police Department]

County Staff Conduct Virtual Inspections — The Health Department’s Division of Environmental Health has been conducting virtual inspections for restaurant owners who are applying for permits for newly built or renovated establishments. [Fairfax County Government]

Foundation Pitches Funding to FCPS — “Ferrovial has contributed $67,500 to the Access for All Fund to support students in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Created by the Foundation in response to the pandemic and school closings, the Access for All fund is supporting Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) by assisting local food banks with food distribution to FCPS families, providing grocery gift cards to homeless and unaccompanied youth, delivering school supply kits, and providing technology access for distance learning.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Financial hardship created COVID-19 has forced a local beauty spa and studio in North Point Village Center to shutter its doors.

Ellada Studio (1458 North Point Village Center) closed its doors after the owner struggled to pay $20,000 in monthly rent and other expenses. The owner told Reston Now that the business received no relief from its landlord despite promises of receiving a lower rate before the COVID-19 crisis.

In a May 15 letter to the tenant, Lerner Corp stated that the business’s “obligation to pay rent is unaffected by the current circumstances or any event of force majeure.”

“Then they changed their mind and demanded the difference and the dollars for the time [we were closed],” Aidana Ablyazova, the co-owner, told Reston Now. She partners with her mom, Nurgul, to run the business.

Although the U.S. Small Business Administration offered a $10,000 grant, that amount was nowhere near enough to cover half of the studio’s rent or payroll. The owner applied for other federal grants, but received nothing. The owner and employees will now move over to Taaj Beauty Lounge, a beauty salon in Tysons Corner.

“The business itself is dead,” Ablyazova said. “But my employees are coming with me and I’m going as an employee to now.”

She says it doesn’t make sense to rent or have a business during the public health crisis.

The mother-daughter duo first opened Ellada Studio at North Point Village Center in November 2016.

Hair Cuttery, which is located at 1434 North Point Village Center, also appears to have closed, according to a message posted on its storefront.

Photos by Laura Crielly

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This weekend made for tempting conditions to break from safer-at-home guidelines in Northern Virginia and throughout the state.

Beach-goers packed Virginia Beach over Memorial Day Weekend while others turned to local parks to grill and gather while social distancing.

In the area, we spotted groups of more than 10 playing on local soccer fields. In some cases at Lake Anne Plaza, folks gathered with not much social distancing at mind.

With Gov. Ralph Northam expected to announce reopening plans for Northern Virginia later today, we’d love to know how you spent Memorial Day weekend in these unprecedented times.

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Although Reston Community Center has canceled its summer camps and outdoor concerts and events in June and July, the center is turning to online options to serve the community.

Here’s more from RCC on the changes:

“This unprecedented public health crisis has upended everyone’s lives,” said RCC Board Chair Bev Cosham. “While we are disappointed not to have camps and the usual summer programming in 2020, we know it is in the best interest of our great community.” 

According to RCC Executive Director Leila Gordon, the agency will be using resources to come up with online options that will showcase popular instructors and counselors. “RCC’s staff is eager to see everyone in person when it is safe to do so,” Gordon notes. “We will be following public health guidance and figuring out how to offer programs with social distancing so we can open our doors to the public again as soon as officials allow it. In the meantime, we will see our community online.”

RCC will offer virtual options to keep children engaged with creative programming. More details on those plans are expected soon.

If publish health regulations allow, some registration-only fitness and aquatics programs may be offered in July and August. So far, the center’s summer events and concerts at Reston Town Center have been indefinitely postponed.

CenterStage’s performance will also film special performances on RCC’s YouTube channel. Some popular performers will also upload performances in June and July.

Photo via Reston Community Center

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Calling all local photographers: Reston Now is looking for your photos of Reston, Herndon and Great Falls.

Whether you’re a photography pro or just love snapping pictures with your smartphone, we are always looking to include seasonal photos in our Morning Notes on weekdays or reshare pictures on our social media accounts.

As we also followed the advice of public health experts, we’re especially interested to see your photos of social distancing (or lack thereof) in the area.

To send us your photos, email us at [email protected], tag us in your photo on social media or join our Reston Now Flickr page.

You will always receive credit for the photo — either with your username or actual name.

Thank you to photographers who have already sent us photos.

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Friday Morning Notes

Fairfax County Needs Contact Tracers — “The Virginia Department of Health said Thursday it’s searching for bilingual candidates as it hires 1,300 contact tracers.  It says it will deploy tracking software and enforceable quarantine orders alongside these tracers to more aggressively counter the spread of the virus.”

Design Review Board Meeting Set for Next Week — Reston Association’s Design Review Board will meet on May 27 at 6 p.m. The board is responsible for reviewing additions and changes to different types of Reston properties. [RA]

Weekly Wages Rise in Fairfax County — “The average weekly wage for those working in Fairfax (wherever they may live) stood at $1,735 in the fourth quarter of 2019, according to data reported May 20 by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s an increase of 2.1 percent from the same period a year before, below the national growth rate of 3.5 percent (to $1,185).” [Inside NoVa]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Local food trucks and food vendors celebrated public works crews (Wednesday) by offering 1,400 free meals throughout the county, including the Town of Herndon.

The initiative, which was made possible by funding coordinated by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority, honored public works crews who have quietly continued to perform essential services like water management and trash collection despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

County officials said the program, which was in time for National Public Works Week this week, was a win-win for local businesses and public works employees. Curbside Kitchen and Cureate, two companies that work with local food trucks and vendors coordinated services with FCEDA, which secured funding from a philanthropic couple. Meals were given from 11:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. yesterday (Wednesday).

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted local and county departments to change their operations and modes of service delivery. The Town of Herndon, for example, has shifted to more online services, including accepting engineering drawings online.

In the public works department, crews are more spread out, with one person riding a vehicle instead of two or three individuals. Shifts are now also staggered in some cases, according to Scott Robinson, the Town of Herndon’s public works director.

Robinson says he expects that some changes in how services are provided will continue in a post-COVID-19 world.

For example, the town may consider offering more online services, in addition to in-person services.

“Our town manager said it best. We want to serve customers the way they want to be served,” Robinson said.

So far, he is incredibly proud of how public works’ employees have handled their jobs amid concerns about safety and health. “These folks are literally out there keep the town running and they’ve done it happily and without complaining,” he said. “I’m really proud of the work the department has been doing.”

Photo via Town of Herndon

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Silver Line Summer Shutdown Town Hall is Today — Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik and Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn will hold a town hall today (Thursday) from 6:30-7:30 p.m. via Webex. Representatives from the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Fairfax County Department of Transportation will also attend the virtual meeting. [Webex]

Summer Camps Cancelled — The Fairfax County Park Authority has canceled all of its summer camps due to guidance provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and local health officials. [FCPA]

Local Junior Collects Cards for Senior Living Home Residents — “South Lakes High junior Mary started a campaign in her community to collect letters and cards for residents in a senior living home. She posted her request on social media and collected the letters in a bin outside on her front porch. Since the residents aren’t permitted visitors, she thought they might appreciate the mail.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]

Next Reston Comprehensive Plan Task Force Meeting Announced — The task force will continue its second virtual meeting on Tuesday, May 26 from 7-9 p.m. Items on the agenda include the history of planning in Reston and elements of comprehensive planning. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Park-goers will be able to enjoy some features of county parks ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

The Fairfax County Park Authority has started reopening parking lots and parks in its park system beginning today. The process of clearing barricades and opening parking lots for its 427 parks is expected to continue through Friday, May 22. Facilities and restrooms will remain closed.

Indoor and outdoor parks closed roughly one month ago due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We greatly appreciate the patience and cooperation shown by County residents during this closure,” said Park Authority Executive Director Kirk Kincannon. “We understand this has been a challenge to many who enjoy the park system on a regular basis. And it will be important that everyone follows the safety and physical distancing guidelines recommended by health authorities.” 

Park visitors should adhere to social distancing guidelines and groups of more than 10 people should not congregate. Other areas that will remain closed include dog parks, playgrounds, nature centers, visitor centers, volleyball and basketball courts, and athletic fields. Water foundations will also be returned off.

The opening is part of the first phase of FCPA’s reopening plan.

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Herndon Man Arrested for Abduction, Sexual Assault — Joseph Dean-Alan Minnig, 34, of Herndon, was arrested for the abduction and sexual assault of a victim he knows, according to the Herndon Police Department. He is being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond. The incident happened on May 17 on the 400 block of Elden Street. [Herndon Police Department]

Herndon Violinist Plays So Others May Eat – “Susan McIntosh, a violinist with the Pan American Symphony Orchestra, entertains her neighbors and collects food for an area nonprofit.” [Reston Patch]

First Case of Syndrome Linked to COVID-19 Confirmed — “The Fairfax Health District has confirmed a case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) associated with COVID-19. This is the first case of MIS-C reported in Virginia. The child was hospitalized on May 5 and has since been discharged and is recovering at home. To protect privacy, no other patient information will be disclosed.” [Inside NOVA]

Donations for Cloth Face Coverings Needed — The county’s health department is asking for donations of sewn cloth face coverings. Donations will support nonprofit providers and low-income client households they serve. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Reston Association has opted to cancel its traditional summer camps program due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Refunds will be offered to those who have already paid for summer camp registration, the association announced in a release on Monday.

Reston Camps administrators and RA management made the call as other agencies in Northern Virginia also cancel summer youth programs. Camps would have begun on June 15. Here’s more from RA:

Based on information and guidance from Gov. Ralph Northam, the Centers for Disease Control, recreation experts and local agencies, RA concluded that Reston Camps could not operate in a safe and fun manner this summer. Issues involving the potential for community spread of the virus, along with various state and local restrictions and safety guidelines, were taken into consideration by RA staff, as were opinions expressed in a survey of area parents.

RA is exploring the possibility of youth environment programs in the summer or early fall. The Board of Directors will meet on Thursday, May 21, to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on other services and programs.

Photo via Reston Association

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