Virginia’s Phase 1 business reopenings began Friday, May 15 in most of Virginia, with several Northern Virginia localities, Richmond and Accomack County choosing to delay reopenings until Friday, May 29.
Governor Ralph Northam has a three phase reopening plan. Phase 1 will last for at least three weeks. At that time, if positive cases of coronavirus and hospitalizations continue to trend downward, Northam will consider moving on to Phase 2.
1. Do we still have to stay home under Virginia’s Phase 1?
Virginia will move to a "Safer at Home" strategy. This strategy continues the ban on social gatherings of more than 10 people and maintains recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and wearing face coverings.
2. Does this mean we are back open?
Not completely. It’s still really important to stay home. We aren’t fully reopened yet. Community spread of COVID-19 is still an incredibly dangerous risk, and we need to take all the precautions we can. Under Virginia’s Phase 1, retail establishments will be allowed to operate at 50% occupancy, restaurant and beverage establishments may offer outdoor dining at 50% occupancy, personal grooming services may begin operating with one patron per service provider, and fitness centers may offer outdoor exercise services. Campgrounds may also begin taking reservations for short-term stays.
3. When I go to a business, will it be just like before all this?
All businesses should make modifications to maintain six feet of physical distance, increase cleaning and sanitation of high contact surfaces and provide enhanced workplace safety measures.
4. Which businesses will still be closed?
Under Virginia’s Phase 1, close contact businesses will still be closed. This includes entertainment and public amusement; fitness and exercise facilities are closed but may provide outdoor fitness classes; and overnight summer camps are closed. Beaches will continue to be open only for exercise and fishing.
5. Will everyone be going back to work?
This order strongly encourages that whenever teleworking is possible, it should still be done. Obviously if a retail business is now reopening, they’ll need employees there. But where possible, most people should still stay at home.
6. Can I hold graduation parties and gatherings like that?
We’re not quite there yet. The Safer at Home strategy continues to ban social gatherings of more than 10 people and maintains recommendations for social distancing.
7. If I’m going back to work and schools are closed, what about childcare?
Childcare centers remain open for children of working families.
8. Where else can I go now?
State parks will be open for day use only; overnight use will come in phases. You can get out and explore nature with the family! Retail establishments can be open with 50% capacity. Restaurants can offer outdoor seating at 50% capacity.
9. What about religious services?
Services have been limited to drive-in and live streams the last few weeks. Now, services may be held inside at 50 percent capacity. Attendees must be seated at least 6 feet apart at all times and practice social distancing. It’s encouraged that you wear face coverings.
10. Do I have to wear a face mask if I’m out?
No, you don’t HAVE to wear a face mask, but it is strongly recommended if you’re going to be within six feet of other people in public, both indoors or outdoors. This is more to protect other people than it is to protect you. Whether you’re wearing a mask or not, please be courteous and kind to others.
11. How long is Phase 1 supposed to last?
There’s no specific date for the start of Phase 2. Phase 1 will last at least two weeks, and how Virginia's data of positive COVID-19 tests, hospital bed capacity, and PPE supplies trend will determine when the Commonwealth can move to Phase 2.
12. Why is Northern Virginia’s Phase 1 delayed?
Signed on Tuesday, May 12, Executive Order 62 will let Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg and Vienna (Northern Virginia Region) to remain in what’s called Phase Zero until one minute before midnight on the night of Thursday, May 28. Gov. Northam said, “While the data shows Virginia as a whole is ready to slowly and deliberately ease some restrictions, it is too soon for Northern Virginia.” More than 50% of Virginia’s coronavirus cases come from the Northern Virginia area. In most of Virginia, about 10% of COVID-19 tests come back positive; however, Northern Virginia is at about 25%.
Source and more information can be found here: www.governor.virginia.gov