A statement from the Arlington County Board Friday night suggests Northern Virginia will not be following the state's timeline for lifting restrictions on businesses May 15. A decision is expected to be announced Monday.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced May 4 that the state would start reopening some businesses on May 15 in the first of a three-phase plan.
In detailing the first phase Friday, Northam suggested that Northern Virginia may seek a delay for the region. The statement from Arlington's board noted the region has seen more than half of the COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state and nearly half of the deaths.
"Arlington is working closely with the Northern Virginia Regional Commission, which comprises other localities in the region, to coordinate with the governor’s office to determine the safest path forward, with an extended timeframe for entering Phase One," the statement noted.
Northam's chief of staff, Clark Mercer, suggested a possible delay may be two weeks, or May 29, for Phase One in Northern Virginia, but suggested a final determination would come following discussions over the weekend.
During a Friday news conference, Northam provided details about the first phase, noting “this plan will slowly and deliberately ease some restrictions, but not all.”
- Non-essential retail stores that were limited to a 10-person limit will be able to open at 50% capacity.
- Restaurants will not be able to open dining rooms, but will be able to serve outdoor seating at 50% capacity.
- Gyms will remain closed, with limited opportunities for outdoor fitness programs.
- Churches will be able to open at 50% capacity.
- Salons and barber shops can open by appointment with strict social distancing and face coverings required.
InsideNoVa spoke with restaurant and gym owners making plans to open their doors next weekend. The governor said he kept restrictions on those businesses due to safety.
“We’ve had a tremendous amount of discussion and collectively we’ve made that decision,” Northam said, noting restaurants may be able to welcome some diners inside their businesses in the second phase.
The first phase will last at least two weeks, and possibly longer depending on COVID-19 cases and testing. Earlier this week, Northam said the third phase is likely 10-12 weeks away.
“I want to assure Virginians, we’re not opening the floodgates,” Northam said Friday.
During Phase One, gatherings will still be limited to 10 people. The state’s stay-at-home order will become a “safer-at-home” order, Northam said. While there are a few more places to go, he said everyone should stay at home as much as possible.
“As we move into this phase, it will be even more important for people to behave cautiously,” Northam said.