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Gov. Northam Explains Phase I of Easing COVID-19 Restrictions in Virginia

| May 9, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

Virginia’s Governor, Ralph Northam announced more details about his Phase I (Order 61) easing of coronavirus restrictions scheduled for May 15, which he calls “Safer at Home,” order replacing his “Stay at Home” order.

Many Virginia businesses will be able to operate at 50% capacity, but restaurants would remain closed for indoor dining. Restaurants, wineries, breweries and the like with permits to operate outside can open there at 50% capacity. Servers would have to wear masks.

People would also be able to receive haircuts and other personalized services with salons and barbers adhering to precautionary measures. Nonessential stores that previously could only allow 10 people inside at a time can now operate at 50% capacity. Gyms and health clubs can serve their members outside their facilities.

Places of worship can have meetings or services at 50% capacity. Northam urges them to continue online or drive-thru services.

Campsites will begin to open first for tents and RVs. Cabins may reopen at a later phase. Overnight camps will be closed for the time being.

Some daycare centers are open f under strict guidelines. Entertainment businesses such as movie theatres, roller rinks and bowling alleys remain closed.

Beaches are closed to most beach-goers. They will be open for exercise or fishing. People are still limited to social distancing restrictions of meeting with no more than 10 people at a time. People who work in office settings are encouraged to telework. Businesses not adhering to the restrictions in accordance with the “Safer At Home” order could be shut down. Schools are still closed.

Northam is also allowing local leaders to set own more cautious restrictions, recommending they work together as a region to do so. He said Northern Virginia has higher cases than other places in the state, so lawmakers in those areas may feel a need to take further precautions.

Northam warns people that the virus is still with us. “We are not opening the floodgates here. We are not switching a light-switch from closed to open. When the time is right we will turn the dimmer light up just a notch.”

He hopes to progress from Phase I to II in a number of weeks, but that data would have to support that decision.

“Virus is still in our communities,” he said, adding there is no cure, no vaccine and it could be with us for months or years.

Last week, the Governor announced that on May 15, Virginia would move forward with easing restrictions on businesses and gatherings via “Phase I.”

Northam explained that Virginia is able to take this step because the state has flattened the curve and hospitals have enough PPE, beds and ventilators to allow for some easing of restrictions.

Virginia increased their testing and although they are seeing more COVID cases, the percentage of people testing positive is trending downwards. The percentage of people in the hospitals for COVID-19 needing ventilators or ICU beds is small.

Most outbreaks in Virginia are occurring in nursing home facilities.

While many people are eager to get back to work, Northam acknowledges some workers are concerned for their health or for the health of those in their households. Businesses need to protect their workers according to guidelines, and employees can contact the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry if that does not happen.

He is also working with the Federal government to easy unemployment insurance restrictions to protect those who cannot work because their health is compromised.

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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