Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

Prince George’s Reopens With Restrictions

Dozens of Prince George’s County businesses reopened Monday, June 1 as coronavirus-related shutdowns slowly lift, with county restaurants again offering curbside pickup and outdoor seating and motorists able to give their vehicles a shine at automated car washes.

“Prince George’s County enters a modified phase one reopening,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks tweeted Monday. “Please remember to limit nonessential trips, and if you do leave your home, practice social distancing and use a face covering.”

Some restaurants such as Dat Jerk Caribbean Chargrill in Glenarden remained open for carryout services. The Black-owned family operation closed for about three weeks and reopened April 20.

The business managed by Richard and Angela Melton Fray, their children Richie and Morgan, and Patricia Powell, Richard Fray’s sister, incorporated safety measures due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Richie Fray showcases the back of a Dat Jerk Caribbean Chargrill T-shirt. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
Richie Fray showcases the back of a Dat Jerk Caribbean Chargrill T-shirt. (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

Blue tape on the floor marked spots to ensure customers stand six feet apart, while plexiglass was placed above the registers for customer and employee protection. A stanchion kept the line of customers from the food preparation area behind glass.

Besides masks and gloves for the employees, the Frays purchased automated hand sanitizer and paper towels dispensers “to eliminate all the touching and unnecessary germs that could spread,” said Morgan Fray, 22, who not only manages the Glenarden restaurant but also provides employee training there and at the restaurant’s Waldorf location in neighboring Charles County.

The Waldorf locale provides outdoor dining, but the Glenarden one does not.

That didn’t stop customers such as Kia Proctor of Upper Marlboro from purchasing food Monday. One of her favorite dishes is honey lime jerk sauce on salmon and shrimp.

“The service is always nice and the food is good,” she said. “It’s always fresh. I’ve never had any complaints. I got some extra for my cousin so she can try it.”

Although the county plans to return to some form of normalcy, it currently has the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the state with more than 16,000.

Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, located in the D.C. suburbs, were the last two jurisdictions in the state to reopen.

Prince George’s, a majority-Black jurisdiction, still requires each business allowed to open to follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including:

– Restaurants can provide outdoor dining with six people at a table, with each table six feet apart, and employees must wear masks and gloves.

– Churches and houses of worship may allow no more than 10 parishioners inside.

– Automated car washes may reopen, but customers must remain inside the vehicle.

– Customers at barbershops and salons can enter with appointments only.

– Employees returning to work at reopened businesses may take their children to child care centers.

Community centers, basketball courts, swimming pools and playgrounds will remain closed. The majority of outdoor basketball rims and nets have been removed from courts at schools and property managed by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission.

However, at least one court remained intact Monday within a townhouse development called Kings Grant in Upper Marlboro.

Alsobrooks had a message for young people itching to play basketball.

“Young people are surviving COVID-19, although some are very sick from it,” she said. “This is about saving your mother’s, father’s and your grandparents’ lives. This is the time as a community there are certain rules to put in place so that we survive as a community.”

To help analyze data and provide future recommendations for the county’s economy, education and health, a 42-member task force will create a report on how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charlene Dukes, president of Prince George’s Community College and will co-chair the group alongside William Von Hoene, senior vice president and chief strategy officer of Exelon.

The group will be divided into five subcommittees — government operations, economic development, education, health and human services.

The other group members include former Gov. Martin O’Malley, who will chair the government operations subcommittee, Joseph Wright, senior vice president and chief medical officer of the University of Maryland Capital Region Health, who will chair the health subcommittee, and Darryll Pines, who begins July 1 as president of the University of Maryland in College Park and will chair the education subcommittee.

Meanwhile, County Council member Deni Taveras (D-District 2) of Adelphi expressed reservation about reopening the county.

The zip code of 20783, which is in Taveras’ district, has recorded the highest number of confirmed cases in the entire state. She also oversees the county’s largest Latino population and the jurisdiction’s most densely populated area.

The state closed a coronavirus testing site at a vehicle emissions station in Hyattsville last week, but opened another one in Clinton. Residents can also receive free testing at a converted site at Six Flags America in Upper Marlboro starting Friday.

The county plans to open two more testing sites by Monday and another on June 15.

A testing site at Rollingcrest-Chillum Community Center, located in Taveras’ district, opened Monday and will be managed by the county’s health department.

“With all due respect, if my community were Mitchellville or Bowie, we wouldn’t have had this problem,” she said. “I think [state officials] are making a mistake by not addressing the high need in this district because a pandemic … affects us all. It’s not just a political enclave that is responsible to the governor. A pandemic affects every single person in society.”

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William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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