Have a Safe Fourth of July Weekend — Tysons Reporter will be off tomorrow (Friday) and return to our normal publishing schedule on Monday.
Schools May Get Renamed — “[The] Falls Church School Board agreed by consensus to move forward with a process to consider whether or not to change the names of two of its schools, George Mason High and Thomas Jefferson Elementary, on grounds that the Founding Fathers the schools are currently named for both owned slaves.” [Falls Church News-Press]
New Unemployment Data — “Following state and national trends, the Northern Virginia region’s unemployment rate declined in May to 8.6%, down from 10% in April.” [Inside NoVa]
New Police Data Collection Law — “The City of Falls Church has noted in a statement that effective July 1, the Virginia Department of State Police, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Uniform Crime Reporting Section will begin the collection of community policing data.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Falls Church’s parks and recreation department is hosting a scavenger hunt that will take people to parks and historic landmarks throughout the city.
The “Historic Scavenger Hunt” will have clues participants will have to solve about parks and landmarks.
“At each stop, you’ll find a kiosk or sign with a corresponding letter. Unscramble the letters from the nine clues and you’ll crack the code word and win a Historic Scavenger Hunt t-shirt!” the city said in a newsletter.
Falls Church isn’t the only Tysons-area place holding a scavenger hunt — the McLean Community Center is also hosting one.
Back in mid-March, government services, community centers, restaurants, schools and more closed due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Now that Virginia is entering Phase Three today (Wednesday), here’s an update on what’s reopened or staying closed in the Tysons area.
Town Hall, which is currently open to the public by appointment-only, will reopen fully on Monday, July 6. “Citizens are still encouraged to limit unnecessary trips to Town Hall and to utilize online services when possible,” according to the town’s website. The town’s council, committees and boards will still meet virtually.
The community center will also reopen on Monday “with strict social distancing, reduced occupancy, and enhanced cleanings.” People will be able to rent space with limited room occupancy rules in the community center.
“Playgrounds, restrooms at parks, the Community Garden, tennis courts, outdoor basketball courts, and Vienna Dog Park are open,” the town’s website said. “Field permits and picnic pavilion rentals are now allowed.”
The town has cancelled events through August, but does have some online options along with no- and low-touch summer camps.
As for closures, rentals are still not permitted at the Teen Center, Bowman House, Freeman Store & Museum and Town Green.
The City of Falls Church took to Twitter to share an overview of what Phase Three looks like:
Phase 3 of the Forward Virginia reopening plan begins on Wednesday, July 1 everywhere in the Commonwealth – including the City of Falls Church. See what's different from Phase 2: https://t.co/wlyqNR2sCT pic.twitter.com/Zv02GCVbrL
— City of Falls Church (@FallsChurchGov) June 26, 2020
The McLean Community Center reopened in a limited capacity when Northern Virginia entered Phase Two. “To minimize face-to-face public contact, we ask that you continue to contact us online, or by email or phone,” MCC wrote on its website mid-June.
Additionally, Virginia DMV extended the deadline for driver’s license expirations from the end of August to the end of October.
Tysons Reporter previously shared what the statewide changes will look like in Phase Three, from fitness centers and pools opening at 75% capacity to non-essential retail and restaurants fully opening.
Fairfax County Public Schools is offering families two choices for returning to school in August: full-time online instruction or two days each week at school and asynchronous learning on the remote days.
Just because more and more places are reopening doesn’t mean people have to go to them, Gov. Ralph Northam has stressed in press conferences.
Per Northam’s order, people have to wear masks when going into public buildings and businesses.
As fitness centers are starting to reopen in the Tysons area as Virginia continues to roll back COVID-19 restrictions.
Here are a few updates on which gyms are reopening, which are staying virtual and which are closing for good.
Solidcore in Tysons is offering in-person classes as of June 23. They are enforcing a variety of measures to enforce social distancing, such as “alternating machines back-to-front” to maintain 6 feet of distance.
They are asking customers to “minimize gathering in common areas,” to use the bathroom at home and to bring duffles to be stored in the pit of their machine rather than in a common area, according to procedures posted on their website.
Additionally, coaches will not be giving hands-on corrections and will be wearing masks and gloves at all times.
Crunch in Vienna is offering special reopening hours from 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. on the weekend.
24 Hour Fitness has closed permanently in Tysons. However, the Falls Church location plans to reopen soon with new protocols to maintain safety. They have created a way for customers to check-in on their own, make workout reservations and even continue working out at home via digital instruction through a mobile app.
Hot Yoga Tysons is offering “two to three” virtual classes each day throughout the week for people who are craving yoga and pilates sessions from their homes.
1 To 1 Fitness in Tysons is also continuing to offer virtual personal training. Their sign-up provides users the opportunity to request a trainer who meets their specific preferences in a coach and a workout.
May gyms and fitness centers may start to open up in July as future guidelines have fewer restrictions. Virginia’s Phase Three will allow fitness centers and pools to open up to 75% capacity.
Photo by Danielle Cerullo on Unsplash
Late Payment Fees Reduced — “As a move to help taxpayers during the ongoing pandemic, Fairfax County significantly reduced penalties for late personal property and real estate tax payments this year.” [Fairfax County]
Profile of Local Activists — Here’s how two students have been pushing for the removal of the bust of Stonewall Jackson in Stonewall Manor. [Washington Post]
History of Antique Lamp Store in Dunn Loring — “Artisan is still around, but it has moved to a cluttered little shop in a secluded corner of a Fairfax County industrial park where the owner has adapted its business plan to the digital age. It has evolved out of necessity from a mom-and-pop storefront on a first-name basis with clients into a niche retailer whose audience stretches from Taiwan to Italy.” [Washington Post]
Local Man Hits the Lottery — “[Falls Church resident Douglas] Rosen scored $100,000 in the Virginia Lottery’s Pick 4 game using his birth year, 1958, as the winning four digit combination.” [Falls Church Patch]
New Principal — “Hoang Nguyen, who has served as assistant principal of Kilmer Center since 2016, has been named the new principal of Kilmer Center, effective July 1. Nguyen began his career in FCPS as a special education teacher at Armstrong Elementary before moving to Marshall Road Elementary to serve as a crisis resource teacher where he remained for seven years.” [Fairfax County Public Schools]
Ramp Changes — “Starting around June 24, drivers on southbound Nutley Street in the Vienna area will use a new ramp and traffic signal to reach eastbound Interstate 66, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) officials said.” [Inside NoVa]
Restaurants Team Up in Falls Church — “Open Kitchen D.C.’s gathering at Yayla Bistro back in March was just supposed to bring attention to another discrete treat buried within the region’s immigrant-owned restaurant scene, but it became one last gasp of normal life before the coronavirus pandemic hollowed out dining rooms across the nation.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Unemployment Problems — “Virginia has frozen unemployment benefits for more than 12,000 people who refused to return to work amid the ongoing public health crisis, the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) announced Friday.” [DCist]
After the coronavirus pandemic altered plans to open Super Bit Video Games, owner Chris Jackson decided to temporarily shift his model so he could safely supply customers with video games and toys.
Instead of inviting people into the store (101 E. Broad Street), which sells retro video games and other similar items, Jackson said he set up a curbside pick-up system so customers could limit in-person contact.
“We were pretty much in a bad spot,” he said but added that between pick-up options, eBay sales and Instagram advertising, the business still ended up being sustainable.
Now, two weeks after customers have finally been welcomed into the store, sales have “substantially” picked up, according to Jackson.
“It’s been awesome to finally get to meet these people,” Jackson said. “The first two weeks have been outstanding.”
Though people were still stopping by for curbside pickup, many customers were awaiting the day when they could visit the interior of the store, he said.
“A lot of the people coming by seem to understand who we are and what we do,” he said. “Because of that, we have a good chance of this level of interest being maintained over a period of time.”
Since people aren’t really out-and-about like they used to be before COVID, Jackson also expects foot traffic to pick up in several months.
As a “destination retail location,” Jackson sees customers stopping by from all over the greater D.C. area, including Falls Church, Vienna, Arlington and even Maryland.
Because the store wasn’t open before the pandemic, Jackson isn’t sure if sales picked up because of quarantine boredom, but he did say the community seemed very supportive on social media before the pandemic hit Northern Virginia.
“One of the biggest reasons I wanted to open this place was to provide a place for the retro gaming community,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of places in this area that do this.”
Bestsellers so far, according to Jackson, include older Nintendo gaming systems along with GoldenEye, Super Mario 64 and even Sega systems, which he said he grew up with.
To keep customers safe, Jackson requests that customers wear masks and social distance while they browse.
“So far everyone has been great with that stuff,” he said, adding that they allow roughly four people maximum in the shop at any one time.
If people want to check out the shop, they can visit Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 5 p.m. The shop is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Photo courtesy Chris Jackson
As Northern Virginia continues to ease COVID-19 restrictions, Tysons-area restauranteurs are not only unveiling new eateries but also re-envisioning dining experiences.
Restaurant owners shared with Tysons Reporter their varying reopening plans.
Solace Brewing Company, a collaboration of D.C. restauranteurs Eric and Ian Hilton and BlackFinn Ameripub co-founder Steve Ryan, was originally poised to open a new location in Falls Church by May 1.
But the opening got delayed due to the pandemic, Jon Humerick, Solace’s co-founder and director of operations, said.
“When everything started, we obviously had to put everything on hold,” said Humerick.
The brewery, boasting several unique offerings of in-house IPAs, now plans to open within the next two weeks, operating under Phase 2 guidelines requiring seating at half-capacity for indoor and outdoor dining.
Taqueria Loca, a Mexican restaurant run by the Great American Restaurants group (GAR), debuted a “ghost kitchen” in Vienna in addition to their Sterling location before Northern Virginia began its transition into Phase 2.
This meant that they were available online and cooking in the kitchens for curbside pickup and delivery — however, they were not serving customers in-person, according to Jon Norton, the CEO of GAR.
“We are also creating a ‘patio and beer garden’ in the valet area of Coastal Flats [Tysons Corner] so that guests may begin to enjoy the Taqueria Loca experience in a physical space as well,” according to Norton.
As of June 12, all GAR restaurants officially reopened at half-capacity.
Shipgarten, a new food and dining concept from the owners of the now-closed Tysons Biergarten, was originally planning to open in June. However, they are now pushing their opening until the end of Phase 3.
“We are going to use paper products and more disposable items like disposable menus,” Managing Partner Matt Rofougaran said in describing the safety measures they will be taking.
In addition, there will be plexiglass sneezeguards to separate the bartenders from the customers, and the tables in the 30,000-square-foot facility will be separated by 10 feet rather than the 6-foot guideline to ensure extra distance.
“We’re going to have plenty of room for social distancing,” Rofougaran said.
Photo via Solace Brewing/Facebook
Use of Force Policies on Agenda — Fairfax County’s Public Safety Committee will hear an update today from the police department on use of force policies. [Fairfax County]
COVID-19 Deaths — “State health officials reported no new deaths linked to COVID-19 in Northern Virginia in the latest daily report Sunday. It’s the first day with no new deaths reported since April 6. It does not mean that no deaths occurred in a 24-hour period — it can take days for deaths to be added to the state’s COVID-19 data.” [Inside NoVa]
Grant Deadline Extended — “The deadline has been extended to Monday, June 22 for the City of Falls Church Economic Development Authority (EDA)’s Small Business and Non-Profit COVID-19 Emergency Grant program.” [City of Falls Church]
Vienna Officials OK Budget — “Vienna Town Council adopted last night a $41 million budget for fiscal year 2020-21, which begins July 1. The adopted budget encompasses four funds, including the general, or daily operations, fund, which totals $24.8 million for the coming year, a $2.5 million decrease from the originally proposed general fund budget… Cuts to the proposed general fund are necessary in response to anticipated losses in revenue due to impacts from the coronavirus pandemic.” [Town of Vienna]
Locals can use more indoor and outdoor facilities now that Fairfax County has entered the second phase of easing COVID-19 restrictions.
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) announced today that its athletic fields have reopened for permitted use. Its basketball courts and playgrounds are also open.
“There is no special cleaning of playground equipment; visitors use at their own risk and must adhere to social distancing guidelines,” according to FCPS.
FCPS noted that the decision was based on guidelines from state and local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
People can also start using indoor pools — outdoor pools opened during the first reopening phase — and head to fitness centers, which can open at 30% occupancy. Zoos and botanical gardens may also allow people to come back.
In the Town of Vienna, the Vienna Dog Park, tennis courts and the Community Garden reopened today and playgrounds will reopen Saturday (June 13).
Meanwhile, the City of Falls Church is now allowing people to use its playgrounds and picnic shelters. Its tennis courts are available by reservation-only for residents.
Photo by tommy boudreau on Unsplash