Restrictions Lifted: City Making it Easier to Do Business During COVID-19 Crisis

Maria Alvarez delivers food curbside to a hungry patron at Table Talk, a neighborhood restaurant at 1623 Duke Street that until now has only served DINE-IN since opening in 1976. (Courtesy photo)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – The Alexandria Small Business Development Center hosted a special meeting today to discuss lifting various restrictions on restaurants and other businesses in Alexandria. Highlights of the meeting include:

Food Service

To support local business and access to food, effective immediately, the City of Alexandria will suspend enforcement of the following regulations and special use permit conditions that limit hours of operation, deliveries, off-premises alcohol sales, and outdoor sales/dining. The City will also begin work on legislation to implement temporary or, where appropriate, permanent changes to the City Code to allow these activities. 

Restaurant Deliveries and Pick-up: Until further notice, the City is suspending enforcement of delivery regulations in order to allow all restaurants to provide delivery service and pick- up service. Delivery vehicles and customer pick-ups may use on-street parking subject to posted parking requirements.

Hours of Operation: Until further notice, the City is suspending enforcement of hours-of- operation restrictions on restaurants, convenience stores, catering operations and automobile service stations (gasoline stations).

Sidewalk/Parking Lot Vending: Until further notice, the City is permitting restaurants and retail establishments to vend on adjacent sidewalks or parking lots.

Off Premises Alcohol Sales: Until further notice, the City is suspending enforcement of local restrictions on alcohol sales, including off-premises alcohol sales and delivery. Business remain subject to all VABC licensure requirements.

Outdoor Dining Expansion: Until further notice, the City is allowing restaurants flexibility to reallocate seats between indoor and outdoor areas. The City will consider for potential administrative approval requests to expand outdoor dining areas for the purpose of social distancing. Interested businesses should contact Planning and Zoning Land Use Services at 703-746-4666.

Curbside pick-up signs are even being put up by the Alexandria’s Office of Transportation and Environmental Services.  Businesses are urged to contact Hillary Orr at Hillary.Orr@alexandriava.gov for placards.

10 Patrons at a Time

Despite bar and restaurant closures in Maryland and the District of Columbia, Virginia is open for business when it comes to certain food services, at least for now. Rachel Stradling from the Alexandria Health Department stated, “Restaurants are limited to 10 patrons. This does NOT include staff.”

More guidance from the state should be released today on whether the 10-patron requirement is for the full establishment, or for separate dining areas (i.e. 10 TOTAL or 10 in the dining room + 10 on the patio + 10 in an upstairs dining room).

(Photo: K. Summerer for Visit Alexandria)

Connecting Businesses on Central Hub

Patricia Washington, CEO of Visit Alexandria, shared that the new portal called ALX at Home is effectively connecting businesses and residents and is quickly becoming to go-to spot to find out who is offering what services and when.

To be added or to update your info, email info to tmeisner@visitalexva.com and drbanews@gmail.com. [NOTE: YOU DO NOT NEED TO BE A VISIT ALEXANDRIA MEMBER TO BE INCLUDED!]

Washington also reported, “Visit Alexandria is conducting biweekly business impact surveys — the next one will be out Monday.”

Rent Relief and Loan Resources

Stephanie Landrum, CEO of the Alexandria Economic Development Partnership said that, “AEDP is reaching out to commercial landlords and tenants on how to work with and help retail and restaurant tenants during this challenging time (recent state regulations only apply to residential landlords).”

AEDP is available to help businesses navigate the resources available — grants, loans — and also to listen and help problem solve.  Businesses are encouraged to contact them via the website, https://alexecon.org/ or phone (703) 739-3820.

Bill Reagan, from the Alexandria Small Business Development Center, shared the following information:

  • — The U.S. Small Business Administration announced that they would be making available low-interest federal disaster loans available to Alexandria businesses and non-profit organizations. Alexandria SBDC staff is available to advise business owners and non-profit organizations and assist them with their applications to ensure they they have all the required documentation, answer questions correctly, and submit a clean application.  Visit the Alexandria Small Business Development Center online at alexandriasbdc.org.
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) can offer up to $2 million in assistance and can provide economic support to small businesses to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they’re experiencing. These loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The interest rate is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits. They offer long-term repayments – up to a maximum of 30 years – in order to keep payments affordable.  Businesses are encouraged to apply.

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