In Washington, three weddings (whew!) and a shutdown

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Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC, greets couples unable to obtain marriage licenses because of the partial federal government shutdown after signing the "Let Our Vows Endure Emergency Act of 2019," or "LOVE Act," which gives the mayor the authority to issue marriage licenses, following a signing ceremony in Washington, DC, January 11, 2019. (AFP)
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Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC, signs the "Let Our Vows Endure Emergency Act of 2019," or "LOVE Act," which gives the mayor the authority to issue marriage licenses during the partial federal government shutdown during a signing ceremony in Washington, DC, January 11, 2019. (AFP)
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Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC, greets couples unable to obtain marriage licenses because of the partial federal government shutdown after signing the "Let Our Vows Endure Emergency Act of 2019," or "LOVE Act," which gives the mayor the authority to issue marriage licenses, following a signing ceremony in Washington, DC, January 11, 2019. (AFP)
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Wedding planner Rachel Rice, owner and operator of The One Moment Events, is pictured January 11, 2019 at her shop in Fairfax, Virginia. (AFP)
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Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, DC, greets couples unable to obtain marriage licenses because of the partial federal government shutdown after signing the "Let Our Vows Endure Emergency Act of 2019," or "LOVE Act," which gives the mayor the authority to issue marriage licenses, following a signing ceremony in Washington, DC, January 11, 2019. (AFP)
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District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser, seated, holds the LOVE Act she just signed joined by soon to be newlyweds, Claire O'Rourke, left and her fiancé Sam Bockenhauer; Caitlin Walters, back left, and her fiance Kirk Kasa; and Danielle Geanacopoulos, second from right, and her fiance Dan Pollock, right, after signing the LOVE Act that will allow couples to get married in the District despite the government shutdown during a ceremony at the Bancroft Elementary School in Washington, Friday, Jan. 11, 2019, (AP)
Updated 13 January 2019

In Washington, three weddings (whew!) and a shutdown

WASHINGTON: There doesn’t seem to be much love in the air in Washington these days, as a long and bitter government shutdown drags on with no end in sight.
But couples whose marriage plans were thwarted by the partial shutdown have gotten a break, thanks to the action of Mayor Muriel Bowser and city council.
The city’s Marriage Bureau, part of the US capital’s federally funded court system, had been deemed “nonessential” and shuttered as part of the thorny standoff between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats.
But on Friday, Bowser signed an emergency measure authorizing city officials to validate marriages in the absence of the Marriage Bureau, which closed when the budget standoff began on December 22.
“They can shut down the US government, but they cannot shut down love in the District of Columbia,” City Council member Brandon Todd said when he introduced the measure.
Titled the Let Our Vows Endure Emergency Amendment Act, or LOVE act, the law is valid for 90 days and will spare future brides like Claire O’Rourke from finding themselves in Kafkaesque situations.
“Practically, we couldn’t sign all the legal certificates during the shutdown without having a marriage license,” O’Rourke, a Washingtonian who was preparing to wed fiance Sam Bockenhauer, told AFP.
“So we were going to have a wonderful party, of course, but couldn’t be legally married in DC until we got our marriage license.”
Some couples, like Dan Pollock and Danielle Geanacopoulos, had no time to spare. They managed to get their wedding license on December 27, just two days before their scheduled wedding.

“By the time we figured out we couldn’t get a license, we were running out of time before friends and family were coming to Washington to celebrate with us,” Geanacopoulos said. “So we focused on the really important thing — celebrating — and decided to figure out the rest later.”
Her mother, Daphne, said she was “delighted.”
“We had a really great big wedding two weeks ago... (but) it feels wonderful to have it official.”
For Caitlin Walters, who plans to wed Kirk Kasa on February 2 on the campus of Catholic University, the shutdown was simply “a small speed bump in the road.”
“Obviously we knew about the shutdown, but we didn’t know that it would directly affect our ability to get married in DC legally,” said Walters, a New York resident who was determined to get married in the nation’s capital.
But while some have taken the shutdown in stride, it has brought “chaos” to those in the wedding business.
“It’s a lot of chaos, it’s a lot of uncertainty,” said Rachel Rice, a wedding planner who recently had to shift a wedding ceremony from Washington to nearby Virginia.
Even if the shutdown were to end next month, Rice said, “some people might say, ‘I can’t wait to book my venue; I have to book my catering, my photographer.’“
On top of that, the approximately 800,000 federal employees sent home or forced to work without pay — some of them with wedding plans, no doubt — have just missed their first paycheck and will be forced to scale back their plans.
Claire O’Rourke has her own shutdown-related regret.
She had hoped to have her official wedding photo taken in the National Portrait Gallery.
But like most of the capital’s vast Smithsonian system, the popular museum remains closed.


Florida offers drive-through Botox to quarantined residents

Updated 04 June 2020

Florida offers drive-through Botox to quarantined residents

  • US state allowed a partial relaxing of restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic
  • Elective medical procedures resume, including Botox injections and cosmetic surgery

MIAMI: Quarantined Florida residents worried about their laughter lines and crows’ feet need frown no longer — Botox is back, and it’s being offered at a drive-through.
On May 4, the US state allowed a partial relaxing of restrictions imposed to slow the coronavirus pandemic. That means certain elective medical procedures could resume, including Botox injections and cosmetic surgery.
Michael Salzhauer, a plastic surgeon known as ‘Dr. Miami’ who has also starred in a reality television show, has been conducting drive-through Botox injections in the garage of his building in the posh Miami neighborhood of Bal Harbor.
Salzhauer said the idea struck him as he was sitting in his car waiting for a blood test for COVID-19 antibodies.
“The areas that we inject Botox are the upper face, exactly the parts of the face that aren’t covered by the mask so it’s really ideal,” Salzhauer said, while wearing a mask, face shield and surgical gown as he waited for his next drive-up patient.
Patients sign up online, paying an average of $600 each for a stippling of shots across their foreheads.
Arman Ohevshalom, 36, was enthusiastic as he waited in line with his wife in their car, although it was their first time receiving the injections.
“It’s very creative, and after seeing how they’re running it I feel just as comfortable as I would in the office,” he said.
Florida’s tattoo artists, however, are frustrated. Shuttered since March, they asking why they cannot open, too.
Botox injections are “kind of like tattooing, he’s injecting stuff into the skin,” said tattoo shop owner Chico Cortez. Florida is home to about 10,000 working tattoo artists, according to the Florida Professional Tattoo Artist Guild.
An emailed statement from a Miami-Dade County spokesperson said Mayor Carlos Gimenez has yet to set a date for reopening tattoo shops. “He is working with industry members and the medical experts to come up with the best way to reopen safely,” it said.