Alexandria, VA – With Northern Virginia on track to begin a phased reopening Friday, May 29, almost everyone is wondering what it will be like when businesses return. With safety measures in place though, it will not be a return to pre-pandemic days.
Under Phase One of Governor Ralph S. Northam’s (D-VA) “Forward Virginia” plan, restaurants and similar businesses, for example, will be permitted to operate outdoors only at 50 percent capacity. Establishments must have a permit for outdoor seating. Takeout is not affected. Retail stores will also be allowed to operate at half capacity. Businesses that operate indoors will remain closed.
ALX Promise, a new program administered by the Alexandria Health Department (AHD), has a dual mission. Designed in partnership with Visit Alexandria and the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce, it aims to make safety a priority and help reboot the city economy.
In this age of caution, when residents and visitors go out, they will likely see new decals on the windows or doors of their favorite restaurants and shops. If a business displays a decal, it means they have participated in a training program and are taking precautions to keep customers and employees safe from illness.
“The ALX Promise program demonstrates the tourism and hospitality community’s commitment to going above and beyond to be a safe and welcoming destination,” said Patricia Washington, President and CEO of Visit Alexandria.
The ALX Promise program is voluntary, but as of this writing, over 200 Alexandria businesses are members. According to Visit Alexandria, to receive certification, the following must be done:
1. Sign a pledge to follow all federal, state and local guidelines for reopening, including:
a) Following all proper cleaning and sanitizing procedures
b) Implementing physical distancing practices within their business
c) Requiring employees to wear appropriate protective gear and communicating an expectation that customers wear face coverings when physical distancing is not possible
2. Complete AHD’s employee training, which includes guidance on consumer safety and alcoholic beverage regulations.
3. Complete an individual consultation with the Alexandria Health Department to ensure the business is prepared to reopen in a safe and welcoming way.
4. Agree to follow all future guidance as Alexandria enters new phases.
One of the restaurants signed to ALX Promise is Chadwicks Restaurant, located at 203 The Strand in Old Town. Its owner, Trae Lamond, told The Zebra he is “more comfortable reopening knowing the rules and best practices suggested by the health department. These guidelines are are easy to follow and will keep my staff and guests safe, and that is my number one priority.”
Businesses can sign up HERE. Registration is free. After the form has been submitted, AHD staff will follow up to schedule a training. Sessions can be completed one-on-one or as a group.
All certified businesses will be listed on the Visit Alexandria website.