Most of Virginia will move into the second phase of reopening businesses and easing other restrictions on Friday, but that will exclude Northern Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday.
Northern Virginia entered the first phase of easing restrictions just last Friday, May 29. "We need more time to monitor their health metrics," Northam said. The restrictions went into effect in mid to late March to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Northam did not give any indication when Northern Virginia would be able to move into Phase Two. The city of Richmond is also remaining in Phase One.
For the rest of the state, Northam said, the second phase of reopenings will include:
- Restaurants can resume offering indoor dining at 50% of capacity.
- Gyms and fitness centers can open for indoor classes and exercise at 30% of capacity, as long as patrons remain at least 10 feet apart.
- Pools can open for exercise and swimming instructions.
- Gatherings of up to 50 people will be allowed, up from the current limit of 10 people.
- Outdoor entertainment venues such as museums, zoos, botanical gardens and performing arts venues can reopen with restrictions, including a limit of 50 people or 50% of capacity, whichever is less.
- Recreational sports will be allowed with physical distancing requirements and no shared equipment.
Northern Virginia and the city of Richmond will join the rest of the state moving into Phase…
Northam said additional details on Phase Two will be provided during a news conference Thursday, when he said he will also discuss youth sports activities.
Northern Virginia regional leaders wrote to Northam last week indicating they wanted the region to move into Phase Two along with the rest of the state, even though it entered Phase One two weeks after the rest of the state.
The Northern Virginia localities that will remain in Phase One are the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, along with all the towns in those counties, as well as the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park. Adjacent counties such as Clark, Fauquier and Stafford will be able to move into Phase Two on Friday.
Northern Virginia has accounted for over 55% of the coronavirus cases statewide and more than half of the deaths, although those numbers have been improving in recent days.
Northam emphasized that face coverings will remain mandated during Phase Two and that residents are still "safer at home."
In making the decision to allow most of the state to move into Phase Two, he cited increased testing capacity for COVID-19, lower rates of positive tests, and lower hospitalizations for the virus. "Our health data continues to look good.”