Having trouble viewing this email? View as Webpage
Responding to Arlington County's New Sidewalk Ordinance
On July 31, the County Board passed an emergency ordinance requiring physical distancing on public sidewalks. The ordinance allows ticketing of groups of four or more people standing on certain sidewalks where signs have been posted. Last night, the County announced the first set of enforcement zones—all in Clarendon, but there was discussion of later adding more, including along 23rd Street S in Crystal City. The County Board also raised the possibility of imposing an earlier closing time for Arlington’s restaurants, but stopped short of doing so and canceled a hearing on that topic that it had scheduled for tomorrow. You can watch the County Board’s discussion online.
The Chamber has been engaging with Arlington County to learn more about the plans for the ordinance. Chamber staff connected with County leadership immediately upon its passage to ask how the County planned to enforce it. With questions remaining unanswered following a County-sponsored informational webinar, the Chamber wrote to the County Board expressing our concerns and questions. Since sending that latter, we have been meeting with County leaders and we are continuing our engagement to raise concerns about how this ordinance will be enforced and the newly-raised issue of a change to restaurant closing times.
The hastily developed ordinance has led to confusion and presents enforcement challenges. For more than three weeks, the community was left uncertain about how the County planned to apply it, with details first announced last night. The ordinance has been presented as a response to patrons crowding outside restaurants, but the County says that they do not expect businesses to monitor the sidewalks outside their establishments. In fact, during last night’s County Board meeting, several County staff members were complimentary of the efforts by restaurants to maintain a safe environment. Choices of enforcement locations, when to enforce, and whether to give warnings or write tickets also raise concerns about if it is possible to enforce this ordinance equitably. For all these reasons, the Chamber will continue to advocate that the County Board abandon this ordinance and find alternative, more constructive ways to promote social distancing.
On August 18, the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, premier partner Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, and co-hosts Alexandria, Loudoun, and Prince William Chambers of Commerce and Northern Virginia Regional Commission hosted the Fifth Annual Northern Virginia Regional Elected Leaders Summit.

The leaders highlighted their collaboration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Arlington Board Chair Libby Garvey said, “The work we have done together over time paid off, and the region has come together to support each other.” Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson noted how maximum flexibility was key to their approach, saying, “We designed it to help businesses make the transitions they need and to help them survive.”

The leaders also looked beyond the pandemic, and key developments in education, housing, and technology. Loudoun County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Koran Saines mentioned that “Loudoun has been changing for quite some time” and that “having the Metro, when it does open, will help for that transition as well.”
Grand Sponsor
Location Pin 2
Reopen 1
Chamber Continues to Support Local Businesses Through the Pandemic
The Chamber is working to keep up with the key challenges and opportunities as businesses work on reopening their operations safely. The Government Affairs & Economic Development Committee has launched a special Reopening Subcommittee of committee participants across a range of industries. The Subcommittee held its first two meetings in August, and will recommend policy positions to the full Government Affairs Committee.

The Virginia General Assembly is meeting in special session, and the Chamber will be weighing in to support bills to help businesses weather the continuing impacts of the pandemic. Key topics will include maintaining critical infrastructure and talent investments in the state budget, providing liability protection for accidental exposure to the coronavirus, and flexibility for businesses to adjust operations during the emergency.
Chamber Supports the Northern Virginia Hospitality Grant Application
The Chamber wrote a letter in support of a joint application by the Arlington Convention and Visitors Service and the other destination marketing organizations across Northern Virginia for a grant, which they received, from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The regional groups are working to counteract the sharp impact that COVID-19 has had on Northern Virginia’s hospitality industry. 

Tourism generated more than $10.2 billion in economic impact throughout 2018, while also providing over 91,000 jobs and $638 million in visitor spending. The grant will fund a program combining travel and tourism marketing with hotel employee training that provides hospitality workers with a certification in the new, post-COVID-19 health, safety, and sanitation protocols.
Upcoming Government Affairs & Economic Development Committee Meetings:
Wednesday, September 2
Wednesday, September 16
The Government Affairs Committee meets on the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 9:00-10:00 a.m. For the time being, these meeting will be held virtually. All Chamber members are invited to participate in these meetings and can RSVP by contacting Operations Manager Olivia McKay at chamber@arlingtonchamber.org.
If you have any policy questions or an issue where the Chamber may be able to provide advocacy support, please contact our Government Affairs Manager, Scott E. Pedowitz, at (703) 525-2400, ext. 203 or advocacy@arlingtonchamber.org.