Briskman Pushes for Restaurant Closures

Hours after Governor Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver issued a public health emergency order prohibiting more than 10 patrons in restaurants, fitness centers, and theaters, Supervisor Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) pushed to ask the governor to close them entirely.

Briskman on Tuesday proposed supervisors send a letter to Northam urging him to order all places of social gathering closed. She pointed to a lack of mass testing for the virus.

“We actually have no idea, my friends, no idea how much COVID-19 is in our community,” Briskman said. “Fairfax and Arlington are seeing twice as many, maybe three times as many cases as us, so it is a matter of time before we have community spread.”

And she pointed out that serious infectious diseases can quickly overwhelm the healthcare system.

“I know that we heard Inova is expanding their hospital beds, but they will not be able to keep up,” Briskman said. “We will soon be overrun. We need to act now to stop the spread of the virus.”

Supervisors Michael R. Turner (D-Ashburn) and Sylvia Russell Glass (D-Broad Run) joined Briskman in that push. Turner said “every step of the way, within a day or two, we have had to take the next step.”

“Its’ perfectly clear to me that we’re going to a U.S. lockdown,” Turner said. “That’s where we’re headed.  And one of the reasons we’re doing that, the biggest reason we‘re doing that, is because we don’t have any knowledge, and the reason we don’t have any knowledge is because of the breathtaking incompetence of the Trump administration in early January.”

Glass agreed the governor’s action may not be enough, citing Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s order the day before to close bars and restaurants entirely.

“People’s attitudes will go back to normal when they feel like everything is OK,” Glass said. “They don’t feel bad, and they start feeling the attitude of being claustrophobic and being in the house so much that they want to go back out and try to do normal things.”

But the majority of supervisors disagreed.

“I don’t believe practically we’re really doing anything different today than what the motion is asking for, because the way that I’m seeing restaurants react to this order, over and over and over again on my Facebook feed today, is that they’re going to takeout, because they can’t practically operate with fewer than 10 people,” said Supervisor Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles).

Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd (D-Leesburg) said at-risk older residents “are intelligent enough to avoid going out in public if they’re concerned about their health.”

“I tend to agree with Supervisor Letourneau that the governor has already taken pretty serous action to limit attendance at restaurants, bars, gyms,” Umstattd said. “I think it’s important to allow these facilities to continue to do some kind of business, takeout and pickup. I don’t want to see all the restaurants in Leesburg shut down entirely.”

County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) pointed to Northam’s public health resources—and his medical training, as a pediatric surgeon.

“The nine of us [supervisors] are very smart people and we know a lot, but we don’t know everything, and not one of us has a medical degree, not one of us, and not one of us is an infectious disease person,” Randall said. “The governor has a medical degree and talks to a lot of infectious disease people.”

She also said such an order would paradoxically send social distancing “out the window.”

“If we shut everything down tomorrow, the lines in CostCo, people standing two feet away from each other with all their children, and their mothers and their father and everybody else—they’d be out there buying out the shelves because they think they have to,” Randall said.

“I think that the sooner we do this, the sooner we stop people from getting together ten at a time, then the sooner we’re going to stop it and and the sooner the businesses are going to be able to reopen,” Briskman said. “I think The sooner we do this, the faster the path to recovery is going to be.”

Supervisors voted down Briskman’s motion 3-6.

7 thoughts on “Briskman Pushes for Restaurant Closures

  • 2020-03-18 at 2:38 pm

    “… and the reason we don’t’ have any knowledge is because of the breathtaking incompetence of the Trump administration in early January.”

    This is the same Juli Briskman who’s claim to fame is flipping off President Trump. I assume she called him a racist when he requested limiting access to the US by foreign nationals who recently visited China when the outbreak surfaced.

  • 2020-03-18 at 3:43 pm

    This is knee-jerk reaction and ignorance that will cause panic, and result in no good. We don’t need to base our actions on the fear of three people with no applicable knowledge or experience. How many people have 30 days of food and medicine at home? How many days of food does Ms. Briskman think there are in the entire county right now? Does she think there is a 30-day supply for everyone in Loudoun?

    We need to be cautious but panicking and over-reacting isn’t going to help. In fact, it can make things worse because if we cripple local small businesses now, a lot of people will emerge from the apocalypse with no jobs and maybe no homes.

    People chose representatives and not nannies and Ms. Briskman needs to learn that quickly.

  • 2020-03-18 at 4:25 pm

    Here we go again – some on our county Supervisors are political grandstanding and using this pandemic for political attacks – PLEASE STOP. Lets be clear China denied our health professionals and WHO experts access to Wuhan, If they had allowed our experts in then we might not be in this position.

    You are not helping by making proclamations without any real knowledge – you are just making the panic grow and spread. Its time for sound calm reason not political opinions and over reaction.

    If you cannot rise above your petty partisanship then maybe you should resign from the board of supervisors and let the adults step in and help.

  • 2020-03-18 at 5:02 pm

    Does she also want to ban a group of neighbors getting together for a Neighborhood Cookout?

  • 2020-03-19 at 10:36 am

    Julie Briskman is such an embarrassment. Rather than fix the problem she wants to blame Trump. You were elected to fix problems not blame others, so shut up and do your job. If you can;t do your job,, please resign and let someone take position who is willing to do the job!!!

  • 2020-03-19 at 1:19 pm

    It seems Julie Briskman just wants demonstrate her awesome power over people. This is not China and as was noted in the article “…not one of us has a medical degree, not one of us, and not one of us is an infectious disease person.” Let’s not “destroy the village to save it!”

  • 2020-03-19 at 5:43 pm

    I hope every restaurant owner in Loudoun sees Finger Lady for exactly what she is — an authoritarian know-nothing bent on shutting off what little business there is.

    Loudoun businesses and restaurants should put up a picture of our state bird, the cardinal, in their windows – send a clear message back to finger lady.

    Mike Turner reveals himself to be a shill for the Chinese Communist Party. They, and only they, are completely responsible for this Mike, not the president. Not anyone in America. We see your true colors now.

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