MARCH 2021

The Economic Development Office has released this Fairfax City ReConnected Summary document that highlights the historic investments made by the Mayor and City Council to help small businesses in Fairfax navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic development teams, along with colleagues in the Commissioner of the Revenue’s, Treasurers’s, and City Attorney’s offices, and counterparts in Finance, Code Administration, Zoning Administration, Public Works, and Parks and Recreation, were able to quickly implement programs designed to assist small businesses by strategic grants and support programs. This summary illustrates the size, scale, and integrity of the ReConnected undertaking.

In addition to this report, the Director of the Economic Development Office has published a commentary in American City and County coined, “Small city, big impact: why economic development is the best tool to tackle COVID-19.” Please click this link to be brought to that article.

Governor Northam released “Forward Virginia” as a blueprint that identifies a phased approach on when to safely begin easing public health restrictions and specific rules that eligible businesses must follow amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
To support businesses on how to navigate and implement these regulations, the Office of Economic Development created the “Fairfax City ReConnected” program with the goal of helping businesses across the city reopen as quickly as possible while adopting the new and necessary measures to keep our businesses and community safe.
The Fairfax City ReConnected program includes guidance and support for Fairfax City businesses with initiatives such as:

  • Fairfax City ReConnected Grant information
  • Fairfax City Reconnected Outdoors dining provision
  • Fairfax City ReConnected Pledge
  • Fairfax City ReConnected Safety Kits
  • Winter Preparedness Initiative to assist restaurants with outdoor dining operations during the cooler months
  • Reopening Information and Guidelines
  • Reopening Signage

Fairfax City ReConnected Grants


The Fairfax City Economic Development Authority (EDA) will be offering the Fairfax City ReConnected Grant (FCRG), in collaboration with the Fairfax City Economic Development Office (EDO), in order to provide essential financial support to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. Grant funds will reimburse businesses for their costs incurred by responding to and adapting their services during the Commonwealth’s declaration of a State of Emergency. In accordance with Governor Northam’s “Forward Virginia” plan and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, grant monies can be used to cover eligible expenses incurred as a result of COVID-19 beginning on March 12, 2020.

Series 1: The application period is closed as of July 29, 2020. For more information about Series 1, please click here.

Series 2: The application period is closed as of December 11th, 2020. For more information about Series 2, please click here.

For more information about new business resources, please subscribe to our Business Bulletin here.

Please reach out to with questions.

Fairfax City ReConnected Outdoors

The Fairfax City ReConnected Outdoors (FCRO) program was created to offer a temporary and measured expansion of outdoor dining for city restaurants during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The program provides a permitting process that supports restaurant recovery; promotes public health; provides clear operational guidance; and creates confidence for employers, employees, and customers.

On December 14, the City Council extended the Declaration of Local Emergency relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic through March 31, 2022.  The extension coupled with the Emergency Procedures Ordinance allows for up to an additional six (6) months of zoning exemptions for temporary outdoor dining through the FCRO program for a cumulative date up to September 30, 2022, unless City Council takes additional action to shorten the permissible period.  However, there are a few updates to the permit status and program to include:

  • Updated Permit Required – Outdoor Dining Areas That Did Not Discontinue Use or Modify Layout:
    • If your restaurant was permitted temporary outdoor dining through the FCRO program and did not at any time discontinue use or modify the layout of your temporary outdoor dining area, your restaurant is conditionally permitted to continue your existing temporary outdoor dining area through September 30, 2022, unless discontinued earlier by City Council or by other applicable law.
    • A new application does not need to be submitted for outdoor dining that has been in consistent use and without modification since the initial issuance.  However, an updated permit will be needed that identifies the revised dates of permission.  To receive an updated permit, email with a copy of your current permit and photos of your existing temporary outdoor dining area prior to March 31, 2022.  Please note, any changes to the initial permitted temporary outdoor dining area will result in a review prior to permit issuance.
  • New Application Required:
    • Discontinued or revised layout.
      • If your restaurant discounted your FCRO approved temporary outdoor dining area or would like to revise the layout, a new FCRO application will need to be submitted prior to March 31, 2022.  Your FCRO application will be reviewed and if approved, an FCRO permit will be issued.
    • Establishing a temporary outdoor dining area for a future date.
      • If your restaurant would like to establish temporary outdoor dining but not utilize the area until a future date, a new FCRO application is required.  Future dates of operation cannot surpass September 30, 2022.  If a restaurant will not be utilizing the temporary outdoor dining area, tents, or heaters until a future date, permits are only conditionally approved.  An inspection of the conditionally approved temporary outdoor dining area must be completed prior to actual use.  If an inspection is not completed prior to use the conditional permit can be terminated.  Formal applications must be submitted prior to March 31, 2022.
    • Initiate a new and/or expanded outdoor dining area.
      • If your restaurant would like to initiate a new and/or expanded outdoor dining area, a formal permit application must be submitted prior to March 31, 2022.  Once a formal permit application is submitted, the City will review the outdoor dining application for compliance with guidelines and will issue a formal permit accordingly.


Please note, the review process for new applications may take up to two weeks.  Any approved FCRO applications must abide by all rules, regulations, laws, and guidelines issued by the City and state.

An application and support on completing/submitting documentation can be found here.

Is a Permit Required for Outdoor Dining?

A permit is not required for restaurants using pre-COVID outdoor dining space.  If a restaurant is looking to operate a new outdoor dining area and/or expand existing outdoor dining space, a permit is required.  All restaurants should adhere all applicable laws, including but not limited to those pertaining to public health, safety, and Virginia ABC requirements.


How Do I Apply for An Outdoor Dining Permit?

To apply for a Fairfax City ReConnected  Outdoor dining permit, please download and email a completed application to  Applications should include:

  • A diagram of the proposed outdoor dining area, layout of fixtures, measurements (to buildings, sidewalks, alleys, roadways), and location of physical barriers on existing site plan or plat of the property.
  • If the area is not covered under your lease, you must have written approval from the owner and/or property management company.
  • For all applications seeking use of public property, proof of insurance with the City named as additional insured required, in the minimum amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000.00).  It is also requested the business provide evidence of liquor liability coverage with a minimum of one million dollars ($1,000,000.00) per occurrence limit.

Applications can be downloaded  here.


Restaurant and Beverage Services Resources


Industry Groups

Virginia ABC Permitted Alcohol Sales

Alcohol sales in FCRO temporary outdoor dining areas continue to be regulated by the authority of the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control (VA ABC).   Restaurants must have a mixed beverage restaurant or limited mixed beverage restaurant license to sell cocktails in their outdoor dining area and should review the requirements as outlined by the VA ABC.

Winter Preparedness Initiative

Fairfax City’s Winter Preparedness Initiative is a component of the Fairfax City ReConnected Outdoors program to support the recovery of the city’s restaurant community with a temporary and measured expansion of outdoor dining. The Winter Preparedness Initiative identifies guidelines to safely comply with outdoor dining standards during the cooler fall and winter months.   The initiative provides information on structures, heating, and more.  Download details for the Winter Preparedness Initiative here.

Click here for tips on how to create an outdoor dining area safely & responsibly during the winter season.

Fairfax City ReConnected+

The application period is closed as of December 8th, 2020. For more information about the FCR+ program here.

The Fairfax City ReConnected+ (FCR+) is a component of the Fairfax City ReConnected program that expands financial assistance directly to Fairfax City businesses.  FCR+ incentivizes gift card purchases at participating Fairfax City businesses by allowing customers to buy gift cards/certificates at a 50% discount with the EDA underwriting the balance for the city business.

The FCR+ program is designed to provide real-time sales directly to city businesses, incentivize customers to purchase gift cards/certificates at a higher value, promote secondary purchases, and encourage shopping local.  The maximum amount of FCR+ funds for each participating business is $1,000 with the program capped at $100,000 from 100 businesses. Gift card purchases are limited to two (2) gift card purchases per household at each participating business for the duration of the program.

Eligible businesses:

  • Must be located in Fairfax City
  • Have and maintain a valid Fairfax City BPOL
  • Have no outstanding tax obligations to Fairfax City
  • Must be able to prove finances and/or operations were negatively impacted by COVID-19
  • Must operate a brick and mortar location with 12 months remaining on a lease or own property and be classified within one of the following business sectors: restaurant and beverage, retail, fitness and exercise facilities, or personal care/grooming business sector
  • Nationally owned businesses are ineligible


Click here for a list of participating businesses!

Fairfax City ReConnected Safety Kits

All ReConnected Safety Kits have been claimed. 

As part of the Fairfax City ReConnected program to assist businesses with opening and staying safely opened during the pandemic, we will be offering  FREE Fairfax City ReConnected Safety Kits (FCRSK) to our city business community.   FCRSK will include essential supplies needed to serve customers and visitors while ensuring employee’s safety.  Each kit contains:

  • Fifty cloth face coverings
  • Four 32-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer
  • Two touch-free thermometers
  • Fairfax City ReConnected Pledge information
  • Business sector guidelines

Fairfax City ReConnected Pledge

As part of the Fairfax City ReConnected  program aimed at assisting businesses with reopening and staying safely opened, the Fairfax City Office of Economic Development has created the “Fairfax City ReConnected Pledge”  a voluntary program that allows businesses to signal to the community their dedication to COVID-19 safety.

The Fairfax City ReConnected Pledge helps patrons identify businesses that are implementing safety precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  Businesses taking the pledge commit to COVID-19 practices by:

  • Requiring the use of face coverings by employees and customers.
  • Communicating safety protocols and training to managers and staff.
  • Working only when healthy.
  • Promoting social distancing and limiting capacity.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently.
  • Adhering to specific business sector health and safety requirements by the Virginia Department of Health.

Businesses that take the pledge, will receive a Fairfax City “Let’s Get ReConnected” window cling to communicate to customers that your business is committed to maintaining safety measures and best practices concerning COVID-19.

Show your commitment and take the pledge here.


For a list of businesses that have taken the pledge click here.

City Square

City Square has ended as of September 30th, 2020. Thank you all for participating in our pilot program. We hope you enjoyed our outdoor dining!

COVID-19 allowed us to witness the unprecedented collaboration between city departments, the Old Town Fairfax Business Association (OTFBA), business organizations, and city businesses.  These new partnerships resulted in developing new ways of supporting our business community. The City Square pilot program was an innovative measure that allowed us to reimagine a pedestrian-friendly streetscape for Old Town Fairfax City, support business recovery, and ensure adherence to health and safety precautions.

While the pilot program has concluded, City Square participating restaurants are continuing to offer outdoor dining experiences by utilizing sidewalks. Our restaurant community is resilient, and we encourage the continued support of their recovery.

If you would like to provide feedback regarding City Square or to advocate for the return of City Square, please contact the OTFBA at

Reopening Information and Guidelines

The Virginia Department of Health has created Business Sector Guidelines to provide businesses with mandatory requirements to reopen as safely as possible.  Businesses shall adhere to these mandatory requirements to protect public health in Virginia.

Individual businesses should take additional measures as recommended by industry guidelines or by common sense applied to their particular situation.  These measures may be updated as needed.

Reopening Signage & Business Community Videos

Businesses that are open must adhere to physical distancing guidelines and enhanced safety practices.  Fairfax City has created business communication resources to address signage requirements by the Virginia Department of Health.

The COVID-19 Business Chat Series was created share best practices among city businesses and communicate to the public that our businesses are proactive and taking health and safety measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.  Each video is 10-15 minutes long and highlights various business sectors.  If your business has pivoted and you would like to share your story, email us at

Businesses currently featured on the COVID-19 Business Chat Series include:

Check out Fairfax City Economic Development’s new look!

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