Virginia won't enter Phase Three of its reopening plan this week, Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday.
Speaking during his twice-weekly news conference in Richmond, Northam said that although the state's health metrics are trending in the right direction, he's not ready to lift restrictions further that were designed to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
“I want to have more time to see how the numbers look before we make changes, especially as we see surges in other parts of the country,” Northam said. Some states that began reopening before Virginia, such as Florida, Texas and Arizona, have reported increased spread of he virus in the past week.
Most of Virginia entered Phase One of reopenings on May 15, with Northern Virginia following on May 29. The rest of the state moved into Phase Two on June 5, and Northern Virginia entered Phase Two on June 12. Under Phase Two, restaurants can offer indoor dining at 50% capacity, gyms can open at 30% capacity, and gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed.
Northam has not outlined any details about what the third phase of reopenings would entail, other than how it would affect schools. He said he would talk more about Phase Three during his news conference on Thursday.
The governor also said that the Virginia Department of Health would begin providing a more complete demographic breakdown of COVID-19 cases by ethnicity.
“This will give our health departments a better picture of how the virus is affecting our community," Northam said.
Northam devoted the bulk of his news conference to discussing the state's response to the ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd and his efforts to ensure racial equality. He said he will propose that the Virginia General Assembly declare June 19, known as Juneteenth, a state holiday. Juneteenth commemorates the date in 1865 that the last state, Texas, was notified of passage of the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves.