RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that Northern Virginia will officially join the rest of the commonwealth Friday in the first phase of reopening.
Northam made the announcement via Twitter.
"All of Virginia will operate under Phase One starting Friday, including Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Accomack County," Northam said. "As we move forward thoughtfully and deliberately, we all must stay vigilant, following the guidelines, wearing masks inside, and looking out for each other."
Virginia’s suburban D.C. counties, which constitute the densest population region of the state, were delayed from entering the first phase by a disproportionately high COVID-19 case count, among other factors.
The city of Richmond and Accomack County on the state’s Eastern Shore also delayed their entrance to Phase 1 of reopening.
Back in March, Virginia implemented stay-at-home guidelines and shuttered "non-essential" businesses in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Here's what else Phase 1 will look like in Northern Virginia beginning May 29:
- Retail stores will be able to host up to 50% of a store's capacity,
- Restaurants and breweries will still have curbside and takeout. If they already have a required permit, breweries and restaurants are allowed to serve on outdoor seating at 50% of their capacity.
- Entertainment and amusement businesses remain closed
- Fitness centers remain closed unless there is an outdoor exercise area
- Beaches are for exercise and fishing only
- Places of worship can have 50 percent indoor capacity and drive-through services
- Barbershops and salons will be appointment only with strict social distancing and a requirement of face coverings.
- Private campgrounds can reopen
- State parks will still be day use only, with a slow phase-in of overnight camping
- Child care remains open for essential workers only
- Overnight summer camps will remain closed.
- Policies to keep customers and workers separate at in-person businesses
- Conferences and trade shows limited, as short as possible
- No social gatherings of more than 10 individuals
- Short breaks for workers to wash hands
- Outdoor fitness activities only
Phase 1 of reopening the commonwealth eases beach restrictions, allowing for fishing and exercise. Tent camping and RVs will slowly be allowed more access but groups are still required to be 10 people or less.
Virginians can go to the hair salon and barbershops, but will need to make an appointment, as well as with other personal grooming spots like nail salons.
Restaurants and breweries are still available for takeout and curbside pickup and will be allowed to serve on outdoor patios at 50% capacity as if they already have a required license.
Religious services will follow that 50% capacity ruling as well, rather than being at a strict 10 person limit.
Entertainment venues and amusement parks will still remain closed.
After Phase 1, Northam said the state will go into Phase 2. This will lift some of the restrictions the state is under, but life will not go back to normal.
Phase 2 for reopening in Virginia would mean:
- Stay-at-home for vulnerable populations only
- No social gatherings of more than 50 people
- Continued social distancing
- Face coverings recommended in public
- Further easing of business limitations
*Note: Phase 2 could last 2-4 weeks or longer
Phase 3 for reopening in Virginia would mean:
- Safer at home for vulnerable populations
- Remove the ban on social gatherings
- Remove capacity limits on establishments
- Continue heightened cleaning and disinfection
- Possible other measures
Northam said Phases 2 and 3 will likely also last three weeks as long as the health data supports it. The governor also noted that Phase 3 could be 10-to-12 weeks away or more -- sometime in July.