Protect Yourself and Those Around You
Every Alexandrian can take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19. The City and Alexandria Health Department have created a “Six Steps to Stop the Spread” video to remind the public of the concrete actions they can take to help protect their loved ones and keep our economy running.
New Mitigation Mandates In Effect
New statewide mitigation mandates are now in effect, due to the recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases. These new restrictions, under Executive Order 72, are expected to remain in effect until at least January 31, 2021.
All individuals are required to stay home between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m., with some exceptions, including school, work, urgent needs and emergencies.
Masks are required for ages 5 and over at all times in indoor settings that are shared with others, including places of worship and work settings, whether or not employees are customer facing. Masks are also required for everyone ages 5 and over in all outdoor settings where 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained. These requirements are similar to those that were already in place under Alexandria's mask ordinance.
The limit on social gatherings has been reduced from 25 to 10 people, which includes, but is not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, regardless of whether they occur indoors or outside. Religious services, restaurants, retail businesses, employment settings and schools are not considered social gatherings, and other rules apply.
Restaurants are still limited to serving alcohol only until 10 p.m. and food only until midnight, with no bar seating and all customers seated so that members of different groups are at least 6 feet apart. Masks must be worn by customers when not actively eating or drinking, and all restaurant employees, including cooks and kitchen staff. All employers are still urged to permit teleworking whenever possible.
Cloth Face Coverings and Masks
Effective October 1, face coverings are required in indoor and outdoor public places, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The ordinance expands on a state executive order that has required masks in most indoor public settings since May 29. Read the news release
The CDC notes that purchased or homemade face coverings will not prevent individuals from catching the COVID-19 virus, but will help prevent people who have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.
- Tips: How to use face coverings correctly
- Video: How to make and use cloth face coverings correctly
- Video: How to use surgical masks correctly.
Concerns About Crowding or Face Covers? Take Action Here
Executive Order 63 – Requirement to Wear a Face Covering While Inside Buildings
Executive Order 63 requires any person age 5 or older to cover their mouth and nose with a face covering when entering, traveling through, spending time in, and exiting public buildings. This requirement does not apply to the following situations:
- While eating or drinking,
- While exercising/using exercise equipment,
- For any person who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, is incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove a face covering without assistance,
- For any person seeking to communicate with the hearing impaired and for whom the speaker’s mouth needs to be visible,
- When removal is required to obtain government or medical services, and
- For persons who have a health condition that prevents the safe use of a face covering (note: any person declining to wear a face covering due to a medical condition is not required to provide medical documentation)
- Employees working in non-customer facing areas
- First, determine that there really is a violation. Different businesses and venues have different restrictions – review the summaries below and the Executive Orders and FAQs.
- If an individual patron is not wearing a face covering, they may have a medical reason that prohibits them from wearing one. They are not required to provide medical documentation. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance and keep your face covering on yourself.
- If an employee of a business in a customer-facing role is not wearing a face covering, ask the employee or the manager if they will wear one. You may wish to say, “I would feel safer if you/your employee would wear a face covering” or “There is a requirement that customer-facing employees wear face coverings – will you please comply with that requirement?”
- Consider reporting violations on Virginia Department of Health’s online complaint form. Or call Alexandria Health Department’s COVID-19 Hotline at 703.746.4988 weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (messages after hours, holidays and weekends will be returned the next business day).
- Consider not patronizing businesses and establishments that are not following or enforcing requirements of the Executive Orders, which are designed to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. Advise the business of your decision. Feel free to adapt and send the Alexandria Health Department's template letter to the business.
- Look for the ALX Promise Shield, a marker that businesses have completed Alexandria Health Department’s voluntary safety training. Alexandria businesses with the ALX Promise Shield have gone above and beyond and are committed to higher safety standards for employees and customers than the minimum rules required. Find the full list of businesses here.
Stay Home and Practice Physical Distancing
Executive Order 67 provides for certain restrictions until further notice:
Restaurants and Dining Establishments can serve patrons indoors with all parties separated by at least 6 feet. Bar seats and congregate areas must remain closed except for through-traffic; non-bar seating in the bar area (e.g. tables not at the bar or food service area) may be used for customers as long as a minimum of 6 feet is maintained between parties. Tabletops, chairs, and credit card/bill folders must be cleaned between patrons. Hand washing stations of hand sanitizer must be provided for the use of patrons and employees. Employees in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouths.
Farmers Markets may continue to operate. Employees and patrons must maintain at least 6 feet of distance between all persons who are not family members. Employees and vendors must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth. Vendors must supply hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations for patrons and employees.
Brick and Mortar Retail Business may operate if employees and patrons maintain at least 6 feet of distance between individuals who are not family members. Employees in customer-facing areas must wear face covering over their nose and mouth.
Fitness and Exercise Facilities Occupancy must be limited to 75% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy. The total number of attendees (including both participants and instructors) in all group exercise and fitness classes cannot exceed the lesser of 75% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 25 persons. Patrons, members and guests who are not family members must remain at least 10 feet apart except where necessary for the physical safety of an individual. Employees must ensure cleaning and disinfecting of shared equipment after each use; equipment that cannot be thoroughly disinfected between uses (e.g. climbing ropes, exercise bands, etc.) are prohibited from use. Hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations must be provided for patrons, members and guests. Employees in customer facing areas must wear face coverings (instructors participating in exercise are exempt from this requirement).
Outdoor and Indoor Swimming Pools may be open with a maximum of 75% of the occupancy load. All swimmers must maintain at least 10 feet apart from others who are not family members. Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools and interactive play features must remain closed. Hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations must be provided for patrons, members and guests. Employees in customer facing areas must wear face coverings (lifeguards actively guarding are exempt from this requirement).
Personal Care and Personal Grooming Services must maintain at least 6 feet of distancing between workstations. Service providers and employees in customer-facing areas must wear face covers over their nose and mouths. These businesses must provide face coverings for clients or ask that clients bring a face covering with them. Services must be limited to those that can be completed while clients are wearing their face covering.
Entertainment and Amusement Businesses: The total number of attendees (including both participants and spectators) cannot exceed the lesser of 30% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, if applicable, or 250 persons. Visible markers for the line must be placed to separate people by 6 feet or more. Ten feet of physical distancing is required between parties where there is physical activity, singing, cheering, etc. Employees in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouths. Hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations must be provided for attendees and employees.
Recreational Sports must maintain 10 feet of physical distance among all instructors, participants and spectators, where practicable. The total number of spectators cannot exceed the lesser of 30% of the occupancy load of the certificate of occupancy for the venue, if applicable, or 25 spectators per field. Races or marathons may have up to 250 participants, provided staggered starts separate runners into groups of 25 or less.
Houses of Worship are allowed to hold in-person services providing that individuals who are not family members that are at least 6 feet apart when seated, and must practice proper physical distancing at all times. Seating and common areas where attendees may congregate must be marked in 6-foot increments to maintain physical distancing. Any items used to distribute food or beverages must be disposable, used only once and discarded. A thorough cleaning and disinfection of frequently-contacted surfaces must be conducted prior to and following any religious service. All public and private in-person indoor and outdoor gatherings must be limited to 25, down from the current 250.
- Guidance for Community and Faith-Based Organizations
- Checklist for Food Safety at Meal Distribution Sites
- Checklists for Providing Rides, Home Visits and Other Services to Clients
- When to Keep a Child Home from Daycare
- Daycare Assessment Checklist
- COVID-19 Emergency Child Care Options and Information
- Spanish Daycare Town Hall for Parents (November 21)
- Daycare Town Hall for Parents (October 19)
- Daycare Town Hall for Providers (October 7)
- Virginia Department of Social Services Letter to Childcare Providers (March 18)
Prepare for Possible Quarantine or Isolation
If you or someone in your household has COVID-19, or has been a close contact, you may be asked not to leave your home for an extended period. Learn more about when it’s safe to be around others. Residents should plan and prepare by doing the following:
- Have on hand enough food, household and pet supplies to last for two weeks.
- Gather enough medical supplies to last for one month, especially prescriptions and other medicines you may need.
- Identify a list of people who can help you or will need to be notified in the event of an emergency, including family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, healthcare providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department and other community resources.
- Identify people who may need help, like neighbors, friends, family and co-workers who are older adults, have limited resources, have special needs, don’t understand English well or are new to the area.
- Talk to your employer about changes at work, how family and sick leave will be handled and if there are plans to work from home or elsewhere.
If you are caring for someone with COVID-19 either at your home or theirs, follow this guidance to avoid spreading the illness further.
Avoid Scams and Misinformation
Remain vigilant for scams related to COVID-19. You may receive fake phone calls or emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites, to try to trick you into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes.
If someone calls and identifies themselves as being from Alexandria Health Department, they will not ask for financial or sensitive information such as bank accounts or your social security number. Learn more about what happens during a case investigation or contact tracing call.
Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.
Do not reveal personal or sensitive information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.
Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails from unofficial sources, and be wary of email attachments.
Learn how to avoid social engineering and phishing attacks.
Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations. Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams for more information.
- Businesses and organizations should review information about risk management related to COVID-19.
Grocery Stores and Farmers Markets
While there is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread through food or food from certain countries, any food can be a surface for the transmission of viruses if safe food handling practices are not followed.
To permit access to food while employing physical distancing and hygiene best practices, merchants and customers at grocery stores and farmers markets should follow these guidelines in addition to the ones directly above:
- Merchants should use gloves properly and in addition to washing or sanitizing. Change gloves frequently.
- Everyone should maintain personal space of six feet whenever possible.
- Merchants should discontinue sampling of cut or open foods.
- Everyone should use non-cash forms of payment when possible. Wash or sanitize hands immediately after handling cash or payment devices.
- Before preparing or eating, customers should wash all fruits and vegetables in accordance with FDA guidance for cleaning produce.