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There’s a new emergency ordinance in Arlington, Virginia, aimed at cracking down on a lack of social distancing in some parts of the county, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The new law passed unanimously by the Arlington Board prohibits people from gathering in groups of more than three, and directs pedestrians to keep a distance of at least six feet on certain streets and sidewalks, where signs will be posted noting the restrictions.

Failure to comply could result in a $100 fine, according to the county news release announcing the new law, which marks some of the strictest rules regarding outdoor behavior in the D.C. region.

While it is not clear exactly which streets and sidewalks the new law will impact, the county said some areas have seen “significant crowding inside restaurants and on the public sidewalks, rights of way, and adjacent public spaces,” where people are waiting for restaurant tables.

That suggests the new ordinance will apply to some of the busier streets and sidewalks in the county’s commercial district, where the board said that too many times, those who are gathered outside are not wearing masks and are not keeping a proper distance from others while waiting for tables.

“They are putting themselves and our community at risk of serious illness or death during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Arlington Board Chair Libby Garvey said.

The county board will hold a public hearing on the amendment at its county board meeting in September, before voting on whether to make it permanent.

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Federal lawsuit still pending on Montgomery Co. nonpublic schools reopening

The federal case against Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles’ now-rescinded order for private schools to remain closed is still pending.

Timothy Maloney, the attorney for private schools and families who sued the county, explained in a statement Monday on his law firm’s website that since Gayles rescinded his order to close nonpublic schools, “now is the time for cooperation, not litigation.”

Though Friday’s court hearing has been canceled, the case remains pending because Maloney said the families want to see how Gayles “treats religious and private schools going forward.”

Last week, Gayles rescinded his order closing nonpublic schools until at least Oct. 1, but maintained that he strongly advised against reopening the schools based on data on the spread of COVID-19. His earlier order had sparked a back and forth between the county and the state.

Gayles’ decision to back down came after the Maryland state health secretary issued a policy that barred the “blanket” closure of schools, public or private.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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