Hi Ward 1. I wanted to check in with a few updates.
Phase 2 Reopening
On Monday, we entered into Phase 2 of reopening the city.The businesses and facilities that were deemed eligible for reopening have received guidelines to follow from the Department on Health.
Restaurants are able to serve indoors at 50% capacity, childcare centers are open with a limit of 10 total people being allowed in each classroom, places of worship are also now open with capacity limits, and more. The full details of the reopening are here.
With more people moving around the city and entering into enclosed spaces with people outside of your household, it’s even more important that we each act responsibly and practice social distancing whenever possible. I also urge you to continue wearing your masks or face coverings. It’s a really simple step that we can take to help protect each other.
There are free walk-up testing sites open for anyone who would like to get tested. See locations here.
I’ve received several messages from constituents about the fireworks that have been going off every night. Most fireworks, including firecrackers, are already illegal in the District. Here are the specific regulations. However, this is a tricky issue to enforce.
Several other Wards are also hearing the loud explosives late into the night, so we are looking for a District-wide approach to solving this issue. Charles Allen, Chair of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee which has oversight over the Fire & Emergency Medical Services (FEMS), has reached out to the Fire Chief for a plan on how we can safely engage with the community to remind residents that most fireworks are illegal. While we work on our approach, here are a few safety points from FEMS:
1. Don’t buy or use illegal fireworks. Illegal fireworks include:
- Any fireworks that moves or shoots a projectile
- Any firework that explode such as firecrackers, cherry bombs, salutes, and roman candles.
- Any firework that emit sparks of flame greater than 12 feet.
2. Avoid buying fireworks from individuals selling them from their personal vehicles, gym bags, or back packs. Penalties for selling illegal fireworks:
- Any person found engaging in the use or possession of illegal fireworks in the District of Columbia will have the products confiscated and could face fines and penalties starting at $2,000.
3. Only buy approved legal fireworks from a licensed retailer or vendor. Legal fireworks include:
- Sparklers less than 20 inches in length, torches, box fire, fountains, cones, dip sticks, paper novelty items, colored lights, and paper caps.
4. Tips on how to safely use legal fireworks:
- Remember to ensure everyone is practicing social distancing.
- Never allow children to light or play with fireworks.
- Read and follow all warnings and instructions before use.
- Be sure other people and structures are clear (50 feet) before lighting fireworks.
- Only light fireworks on a smooth, flat surface away from flammable materials.
- Use longer lighting devices (A grill lighter is a good choice)
- Never try to relight fireworks that have not fully functioned.
- Keep a bucket of water in case of a malfunction or fire.
Report the use of illegal fireworks or fireworks related complaints to the Fire Marshals Office at (202) 727-1614 or email: email@example.com
Use of Pepper Spray on Residents
Following reports of the use of force, including pepper spray, by MPD at Lafayette Park Monday night, I am urging Mayor Bowser to sign the emergency legislation that Council passed that bans the use of chemical irritants. Read my full statement here.
Safety Town Hall: Part 2
Each year, I host an annual public safety town hall. Residents typically get a chance to hear from government officials and have the opportunity to discuss in small groups new ways that we can work together to improve safety. Due to the restrictions on mass gatherings, this year we broke the event up into two parts in order to still allow for residents to have these important conversations.
Last week, I hosted a telephone town hall so that constituents could hear updates from government officials. Click here to listen.
The next part of the conversation will be on Tuesday, July 7th, 2020 at 5:00pm. I’ll host this one via Zoom and I’ll be joined by community leaders in a more interactive format where we can see each other and have a discussion about actionable steps that we can take together to improve safety in Ward 1. I’ll be sending out a sign-up link in the next few days.
On Friday, June 26th, the US House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the DC Statehood Bill (HR 51). If it passes, it will be the first time a statehood bill has passed through one of the chambers of congress in DC’s 219-year history.