The city of Manassas and the Prince William Chamber of Commerce have joined Prince William County in asking Gov. Ralph Northam to allow restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining starting this weekend.
Currently, any easing of restrictions designed to slow the spread of coronavirus is delayed until at least May 29 across Northern Virginia.
However, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted 5-3 Tuesday to send a letter to Northam requesting that restaurants with outdoor seating be allowed to open at 50% capacity this weekend. That is the first stage of the reopening process for restaurants and is now allowed elsewhere in the state, including neighboring Fauquier and Stafford counties.
Manassas followed suit Thursday with a letter to Northam from Mayor Hal Parrish, which noted that the city has adopted plans to help restaurants expand their outdoor dining areas by closing portions of downtown streets.
"Taking this measure will help reduce the negative impact on unemployed workers and the current fiscal strain on many businesses in the city," Parrish wrote.
The Prince William Chamber sent a similar letter to Northam late Wednesday, requesting that any reopening of restaurants this weekend also include the city of Manassas Park.
“Many of our restaurants have been ready to reopen since the initial May 15th open date under the state guidelines," said Ross Snare, director of communications and government affairs for the chamber. "We have received numerous phone calls and emails from restaurant owners these past several weeks telling us about their struggles and being desperate to reopen."
Asked about the Prince William request during his news conference Wednesday, Northam did not refer to it specifically but said he has received similar requests from other towns, cities and parts of counties. Last week, three western Loudoun County supervisors asked Northam to let their part of the county begin reopening on May 15, a request Northam rejected.
"I listen to the requests. I take everything into consideration," he said. "But as best we can we try to be consistent."
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