The Chamber applauds last night’s decision by the Arlington County Board not to adopt the sidewalk crowding ordinance on a permanent basis. We support the entire community working together to help everyone to be safe in Arlington. The ordinance, and its threat of $100 fines, has not been shown to reduce crowds. Instead, it raised concerns about the targeting of certain businesses and their customers.
The Chamber played a leading role in opposing the continuation of this sidewalk ordinance. From its initial, temporary approval in late July, we reached out to many Arlington County officials to try to learn where and how it would be enforced. When it became clear that it would target certain restaurants and their patrons, we organized meetings for County leaders to hear directly from impacted restaurants about all that they are doing to keep patrons safe, and the potentially devastating effect that the ordinance could have on their businesses. We also wrote to the County Board and spoke at last night’s meeting. Thanks to restauranteurs and others from the community who came out and made their case for why the ordinance shouldn’t be adopted directly to the Board.
We are grateful for the County Board’s 1-4 vote not to make the ordinance permanent. The temporary ordinance will run through the September 29 and then lapse. In our letter and in our remarks, the Chamber encouraged Arlington County instead to develop alternative, more constructive approaches to promoting social distancing on sidewalks. We look forward to working collaboratively with our members and local government to help patrons enjoy and support our restaurants and other Arlington businesses in a safe, healthy manner.