CITY OF MANASSAS, Va. (WDVM) — On Monday, the Manassas City Council adopted an ordinance to assist its restaurants to accommodate outdoor seating as they reopen, in the hopes they could start on May 22.
“We’re ahead of everybody and I’m proud of that. I think Manassas is proactive and is an example for others,” Mayor Hal Parrish said. “It puts it back on our staff to work with the restaurants to be able to grow their outside activities — perhaps we could help them grow their outdoor seating; maybe by shutting a street down temporarily.”
But Governor Ralph Northam has delayed Phase One of reopening in Northern Virginia. A date hasn’t been set yet – at his press conference Wednesday, Northam said he hasn’t decided whether Northern Virginia can enter Phase One of reopening on May 29 – a date he had previously suggested.
“I trust our restaurants,” Parrish said. “I know that there are people out there that are going to push buttons. I know that. But I trust our restaurants to help our community to stay safe and protect our ability to perhaps take action and move forward.”
Parrish has penned a letter to the governor requesting he allow parts of Northern Virginia (like the City of Manassas) to open if they wish and if they can abide by the Phase One guidelines. As of Friday afternoon, he hadn’t heard back. “I don’t want to throw stones, but it’s unfortunate,” he said. “I’m still hopeful.” Instead of being looped in with larger jurisdictions that are closer to the Capital Beltway, he hopes Prince William County, Manassas Park, and the City of Manassas can take a different approach.
“Taking this measure will help reduce the negative impact on unemployed workers and the current fiscal strain on many businesses throughout the City,” Parrish said in his letter. “The City of Manassas appreciates the hard work and dedication shown by the Administration to keep Northern Virginia and the Commonwealth moving forward despite the pandemic that we face.”
A couple of weeks ago, the Northern Virginia Regional Commission wrote the governor, asking him to slow his reopening plans in Northern Virginia. It was signed by leading elected officials in Northern Virginia’s largest jurisdictions — not anyone from smaller towns or cities, like Manassas, which troubled Parrish. Soon after, the governor announced Northern Virginia would not open with most of the state. “If I were the governor I would’ve done the same thing because he received a letter from the chief elected officials for the large jurisdictions up here,” Parrish said.
Parrish says he admired Prince William County’s efforts to convince the governor to let them reopen. “They talked about the impact of life on the other side of it: the impact on businesses, and the pocketbook, and the psyche. I called [City Manager Pat] Pate the next morning and told him I was going to write a letter.” Parrish says he consulted other city council members before writing it.
At his press conference Wednesday, Northam said he’s received many requests from towns and cities like Manassas’. “I listen to the requests. I take everything into consideration,” he said. “But as best we can we try to be consistent.” He did not make any updates at his press conference Friday.
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