Posted on August 15, 2022
The local emergency for Arlington County, originally declared in response to the public health threat posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19), ends August 15, 2022.
The statement, which came into effect on March 13, 2020, was established to assist in response and recovery efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This allowed the county to transition to virtual operations, including online permits, appointments, remote inspections, county council and commission meetings, and public comment.
“The declaration has been an important tool providing the flexibility needed to better serve our residents, businesses and visitors,” County Executive Mark Schwartz said. “Additional emergency authorities, such as the ability to change procurement, hiring and zoning rules, have served us well. However, as we have learned to deal with a pandemic that will be with us for many many months, the need for these emergency authorities has diminished.
Many of the new tools, strategies and approaches born out of the pandemic will continue as the county moves beyond the local emergency declaration:
Virtual and hybrid Commission and Advisory Council meetings
A new Virginia Electronics meeting policy will take effect on September 1, 2022, which will provide additional flexibility for hosting virtual and hybrid meetings. This new policy provides most of our committees and advisory boards with the ability to hold a fully virtual meeting twice (or 25% of all meetings) per year and allows for remote participation for the public and individual committee members. exceptionally.
Temporary outdoor seating areas (TOSA) for outdoor dining
During the pandemic, the county implemented TOSAs in emergency response to indoor dining restrictions and to provide an expedited process for new or expanded outdoor seating at restaurants. Many people have enjoyed alfresco dining with family, friends and colleagues and these arrangements have been essential for restaurateurs for business operations during this time.
Even with the end of the state of emergency, TOSA authorizations will continue under the Continuity of Government Order for another six months through February 2023. Over the next six months, the county will strive create longer-term solutions that apply lessons learned. from TOSA to permanent zoning regulations for outdoor seating. The county manager will provide an update to the county council in November.
The county’s response to COVID-19 will continue through the end of the statement, including operating vaccination clinics at the Arlington Community Center and the Walter Reed Community Center, and offering free testing at four Curative kiosks.
Of course, the end of the declaration does not mean that COVID-19 is no longer a threat; we encourage everyone to continue to use tiered prevention strategies – wearing a mask, getting tested if exposed or symptomatic, getting vaccinated, following isolation and quarantine advice, and getting COVID treatment- 19 if and when necessary.