Virginia’s Phase 1 begins Friday, May 15th! A whole lot of the information out there is confusing, so we want to help clear up some of the misinformation and most asked questions we’re seeing going around. So in Phase 1, we want you to be clear about what it means. Governor Ralph Northam said Phase 1 would last for at least two weeks and he would allow localities to impose tougher restrictions if they wanted to, but his plan would be the floor for restrictions.
1. Do we still have to stay home under Virginia’s Phase 1 or not?
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. So, does this mean we are back open or not?
Short answer, not completely. It’s still really important to stay home. We aren’t fully reopened yet. Community spread of COVID-19 is still incredibly dangerous risk, and we need to take all the precautions we can. But 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?
We certainly hope not. 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 be closed still?
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. So everyone should be going back to work, right?
No, definitely not yet. This order strongly encourages that whenever teleworking is possible, it should be done still. Obviously if a retail business is now opening that wasn’t before, they’ll need employees there. But where possible, most people should still stay at home.
6. Now I can hold my graduation parties and stuff like that right?
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 now?
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. So you can get out and explore some nature with the family! Retail establishments can be open with 50% capacity. Restaurants may offer outdoor seating at 50% capacity.
9. And how about church services?
Sunday services have been limited to drive in and live streams the last few weeks, but not anymore. Church 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’s strongly recommended if you’re going to be within six feet of other people in public, both indoors or outdoors. And as we’re sure you’ve heard by now, this is more to protect other people than it is to protect you. And whether you’re wearing a mask or not, let’s be courteous and kind to others right now. There’s a lot of tension in the air, and we all just want to get back to normal as quickly as possible.
11. How long is this 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 trends of COVID-19 tests, hospital bed capacity, and PPE supplies will determine when the commonwealth can move to Phase 2.
12. Why is Northern Virginia’s Phase 1 delayed?
Signed on Tuesday, 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. 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.” Northam also said about 70% of Virginia’s cases come from the Northern Virginia area, while the rest of Virginia was showing that about 10% of COVID-19 tests were coming back positive, Northern Virginia was at about 25%.
Source and more information can be found here: www.governor.virginia.gov