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Northam Plans to Reopen Virginia Businesses, May 15

| May 4, 2020 | 0 Comments | News

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced, Monday, at a press conference, that he would be extending the date for Virginia businesses to reopen until May 15.

At that point Virginia will begin “easing restrictions” and businesses would reopen under “Phase I” guidelines. He had pushed it back two weeks to allow the state to put clear guidelines in place and for businesses to prepare.

Phase I guidelines would allow restaurants, retail, gyms, personal care services like hair salons, and houses of worship to open and to operate within set parameters. These include social distancing, limited capacity, frequent cleaning and sanitizing, and employees wearing masks.

For instance, people could go to restaurants but seating would be more spread out and servers would wear facemasks.

People may need to make reservations to go to restaurants, hair salons, and possibly other establishments that could reach capacity.

Farmers Markets will be allowed to open their outdoor markets, and this is good news for Virginia’s local farmers, said Northam.

But many of his initial orders remain in place. People still would not be able to gather in groups of more than 10 individuals and people should still keep a safe distance.

People who work in offices should continue to telework if possible. And rather than a “stay at home” order, he will begin calling it a “safer at home” order.

The Governor emphasized that easing restrictions does not mean the virus is gone and people should not act as though it is. This is especially true for the elderly or people with health conditions.

What it means is that they have been able to slow the curve and have not seen a spike of cases. Hospitals have not been overwhelmed and the state now has more PPE supplies, beds, ventilators and more robust testing.

“This virus is still here. It has not gone away and it will not go away until we have a vaccination,” said Northam.

Northam said a vaccine could be available by the end of the year, or not for the next two years, so precautions will remain.

His team is paying close attention to the data. The number of new cases of the virus is still rising, said Northam, but that is due largely to an expansion of testing.

As testing increases dramatically, he wants to see the percentage of those testing positive decline. He also needs to see hospitalizations decline. Any reversal of that data would lead to freezing at the current phase.

It data moves in the right direction, then within 2-3 weeks, Virginia could progress to Phase 2 and then Phase 3. This means more easing of restrictions in June and July, which could bode well for summer, but only cases do not greatly increase.

The Governor said they are adhering to CDC guidelines.

Virginia is now working on expanding testing and also to trace contacts of people who have the virus, so they have made much progress since March.

Data Virginia Health Commissioner, Norm Oliver, M.D., shared was that majority of outbreaks in Virginia are in assisted living facilities. African Americans and Lantinx people are being disproportionally affected. There are incidents within Virginia’s poultry processing facilities, and of course, most cases are in largely populated areas.

Northam said he decided not to open the Commonwealth by district or region because he did not want people from hot spots traveling elsewhere. He also wants the Commonwealth to remain unified.

He said he appreciates everything that everyone has done and he is naming this “Resilience Week.

© 2020, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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