Northern Virginia’s top health officials are calling on the state to delay plans to ease restrictions on businesses in the region May 15, pointing to data showing Northern Virginia has not met the governor’s thresholds for entering Phase One of reopening.
The directors of health departments and districts in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William signed the letter to State Health Commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver.
“We recommend continuing current community mitigation strategies and reassessing this on a regular basis to determine when Northern Virginia can move into Phase 1 according to these criteria (and any additional agreed upon criteria),” the letter noted.
In a separate letter from the board chairs in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William and the mayor of Alexandria, the elected leaders also called for “any changes to current policies be guided by what is occurring in our region.”
“We eagerly wish to rebuild our economy and help our residents recover,” the joint letter stated. “It is only through our regional achievement of these milestones that we will be positioned to avoid a more damaging return to business closures later in the summer.”
A regional delay would likely include communities from Prince William and Loudoun counties to the border with Washington, D.C.
A final determination is expected from the governor, but he has said that he would be open to Northern Virginia delaying Phase One.
Gov. Ralph Northam's chief of staff, Clark Mercer, suggested Friday that a possible delay may mean two weeks, or May 29, but suggested a final determination would come following discussions over the weekend.
The decision would likely send new visitors to nearby communities that would follow state guidelines, including Warrenton, Fredericksburg and Stafford County.
Phase One lets churches and non-essential stores open at 50% capacity — they're currently limited to no more than 10 guests. Salon and spas can open by appointment only.
Restaurants can open outdoor dining spaces at 50% capacity and gyms are allowed to offer limited outdoor classes.