D.C.’s So-Called Reopen Plan Is a Suicide Pact for the Restaurant Industry
On Thursday, the District of Columbia’s task force on reopening the city finally unveiled its recommendations—in the form of a deeply unserious document filled with contradictory guidance and bad advice. Overly optimistic in some places while hopelessly naive in others, the report is woefully inadequate and should be discarded.
Most notably, the task force would all but require most restaurants in the district—and every bar and nightclub—to go out of business. The report also constrains child care services to such an absurd degree that the permissions granted to other sectors of the city to reopen hardly matter: What are working parents supposed to do with their young kids?
The task force was chaired by former National Security Advisor Susan Rice and former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, and it included several former mayors and current officials. So the perspective of the career bureaucrat was clearly well represented. The small business owner, not so much.
The report delineates three phases of gradual reopenings, followed by a fourth stage where most aspects of life can return to normal. Stage 4 does not ensue until a vaccine or effective cure for COVID-19 is available, so it takes place in a future that is a year away at best and possibly many years away. The other three stages are “declining virus transmission,” “only localized transmission,” and “sporadic transmission.”
Where to begin? The guidance keeps all summer camps, schools, and child care services (except for critical workers) closed in stage one. Stage two lets summer camps resume but caps them at 10 kids per room if indoors and 50 kids if outdoors. Schools and day care centers can also reopen, but again with a 10-kids-a-room maximum in place. In stage three, summer camps can ta
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