Councilmember Charles Allen: Latest Updates on COVID Restrictions

Alright, this is (hopefully) the last update from me for 2020. The Council has wrapped up our legislative work for the year and is preparing for the start of a new two-year session in January, which will include two new councilmembers and all of the hope and challenge of a new year. I'm going to try to keep this newsletter a little shorter, and there are a few important items to share. But before we jump in, let me send all the best wishes for this holiday season and New Year from my family to yours. This has been a difficult year for so many - and on so many different fronts. You may be celebrating despite the loss of a friend or family member, or you may be apart from the people that make your holidays complete. No matter how you've been celebrating and remembering this season, please know that I'm thinking about you and that I see hope on the horizon for 2021. It's my wish that these days bring you peace and restores our shared commitment to one another as we build toward a strong recovery from this pandemic. And now, let's jump in. 

New COVID-19 Restrictions in Place

Starting last week, Mayor Bowser announced restrictions on activities in a few spaces to slow the spread of COVID-19. I just want to reiterate here: don't take a risk this holiday season that you'll regret in a year. We have two vaccines approved and already being rolled out (here's a link to more information about the District's vaccination plans thus far). That's a modern miracle and a hopeful sign we could all use. But don't stop being careful now. Don't host a holiday gathering. Wear a mask. We're getting through this, but spread is incredibly high right now and you cannot guarantee your safety and the safety of your loved ones - just hang on a little longer!

  • Restaurants: Starting tonight (Dec 23) at 10 pm, indoor dining will not be allowed until January 15. Outdoor dining and takeout are still permitted. 
  • Museums: Closed until January 15.
  • Libraries: Services restricted to drop-off and pick-up at the door only, indoor services closed until January 15.
  • Parks and Recreation: Indoor swimming and gym sessions are limited to individual reservations only until January 15.
  • DC Circulator's National Mall Loop is suspended until January 15. 

Finally, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has asked me to co-chair a Special Committee on Pandemic Recovery with Councilmember Vince Gray. More to come, but I am looking forward to leading the Council's efforts to map out what our recovery looks like and how we also how we work to reverse the inequities exposed by this pandemic, including things like expanding access to fast and free internet, transit, health care, childcare, education, and more as part of recovering from the coronavirus crisis.

Holiday COVID Testing Schedule

COVID-19 testing will follow the same schedule as normal, however all public testing sites will be closed on Friday, December 25, in observation of the Christmas holiday. Schedule here: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/testing

Bridge Funding for Retail, Entertainment Open

Joining funding for hotels and restaurants, there are relief funds available for businesses hurt by the pandemic in the retail and entertainment sectors. More information on eligibility and how to apply here: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/bridgefund

Related: There are a whole bunch of funding opportunities available for community groups and businesses doing important work during the pandemic. Serve DC has complied all of the listings and deadlines here: https://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/DCWASH/bulletins/2b25893

WMATA Updates: Bus Fares Return, Comment on Proposed Budget

Just a heads-up, as part of WMATA's recovery plan, buses will return to front door loading and collecting fares on January 3, 2021. 

Additionally, while there's a lot we don't know about WMATA's budget in the coming year (especially federal funding and ridership levels), we know we're going to have to protect Ward 6 bus lines and rail service. Feedback on WMATA service cuts begins in January. Here's where we stand before factoring in funding through the most recent federal bill: https://www.wmata.com/about/board/meetings/board-pdfs/upload/3A-1-FY22-Consolidated-Route-Network-Service-Plan-updated-12-1-Final.pdf

Mayor Bowser Nominates Robert Contee to be Chief of Metropolitan Police Department

In case you missed the news, the Mayor has announced she will be nominating Assistant Chief Robert Contee as the next Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department. Plenty of Ward 6 residents will remember him from his time as the 1st District Commander. Here's my full statement: http://www.charlesallenward6.com/councilmember_allen_statement_on_nomination_of_robert_contee_as_chief_of_mpd

Related: Council Chairman Phil Mendelson has recommended I continue to Chair the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety for Council Period 24. I am honored to be trusted to continue this work. Here's my statement on Committee assignments in the upcoming Council Period.

End of Year Office Closure

My office will be closed the final week of the year and reopen as the new Council is sworn in on January 2. During that time, you can still tweet at me or email me, but the end of a council period is a rare opportunity to give my team a little downtime before it all starts back up again in January. 

Free Weatherization to Warm Up Your Home

As cold days set in, make sure your neighbors know the District offers assistance to seniors and income-qualifiying residents for assistance with weatherization projects that can keep your home warmer. Learn more here: https://doee.dc.gov/service/weatherization-assistance-program-wap

Free Student/Kid Meal Sites Over the Holidays

Until January 4, DCPS meal sites will operate a modified schedule. Here's the updated information, please share on your neighborhood listservs: https://coronavirus.dc.gov/sites/default/files/dc/sites/coronavirus/release_content/attachments/Holiday-Meal-Site-Flyer_DCPS.pdf

Help the Helpers. Here's Who Is Serving Our Neighbors During COVID

These organizations are still doing great work to help our neighbors and they're worth your support. If you need assistance, this list is a good starting point. If you find yourself with a lot of time and you are healthy and able to volunteer, these are groups that can put you to work. I cannot emphasize enough, however, that if you are not feeling well at all, please do not volunteer.

  • Serve Your City\Ward 6 Mutual Aid Network: Led by Ward 6 neighbor Maurice Cook and Serve Your City, this is a group collecting and redistributing food and other essential items for neighbors. Serve Your City provides opportunities for Ward 6 students.
  • GOODProjects: Working in Southwest with a safe space for kids living in Greenleaf, Syphax, and James Creek to have access to online learning and support. 
  • Powerof10: Founded by H Street's own Eric Bruner-Yang, this initiative keeps restaurant kitchens' working by preparing meals for hungry neighbors, essential workers, and first responders. 
  • DC Medical Reserve Corps: Organized by the DC Government, here's a way to help out as our medical response scales up.
  • Capital Area Food Bank: In critical need of volunteers to help sort and pack food in their warehouse and assist at their offsite food distributions.
  • Food and Friends DC: In urgent need of extra volunteers throughout the coming weeks. There are two volunteer opportunities, food preparation and packaging and meal and grocery delivery.
  • Food Rescue US: Volunteers with vehicles needed to pick up and deliver food from businesses to DC residents in need.
  • Martha’s Table: Volunteers needed to help prepare and bag food for their emergency food sites across the city.
  • We Are Family: Volunteer to deliver groceries to seniors.
  • Food for All DC: Volunteer to drive groceries to seniors, immunocompromised, and other DC neighbors who are homebound. Volunteer here.
  • Aunt Bertha: Aunt Bertha’s network connects people seeking help and verified social care providers that serve them by zip code. Contact your local shelter to see what help and/or items may be needed.
  • Breadcoin: A nonprofit offering flexibility to folks who are hungry in where and how they purchase food or meals at a restaurant.

Free diapers

Free groceries for residents

Please be safe, and my thanks and best wishes to you and your family in the new year. 

Charles Allen