With just hours left before Virginia’s stay-at-home order was meant to expire (originally planned to be lifted on June 10), Gov. Ralph Northam held a press conference on June 9 to announce coronavirus reopening updates, plans for the 2020-2021 school year and more.
“Overall, our numbers look good,” said Northam, citing that the percentage of positive tests is trending downward, as well as statewide hospitalization rates.
According to Northam’s announcement, hospital bed capacity in Virginia continues to be sufficient and the state is working with doctors to make sure proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is available and ready for use at all times.
As of publication time, Northern Virginia has been given the go ahead by Northam to enter phase two of reopening starting Friday, June 12.
Northern Virginia’s five jurisdictions—Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax County, Loudoun County and Prince William County—were originally two weeks behind the rest of the commonwealth, as the rest of the state entered phase one of the reopening plan on May 15, with Northern Virginia entering phase one on May 29.
Most of the commonwealth entered phase two on June 5, marking this as the shortest amount of time for Northern Virginia to align itself with other reopening jurisdictions.
Since Northern Virginia leaders have not yet announced a jurisdiction’s deferral of the phase two reopening, residents can look forward to restaurants reopening for indoor service up to 50% capacity, as early as Friday. At some establishments, outdoor dining may still be offered depending on availability.
Fitness centers will be allowed to serve guests at up to 30% capacity, with indoor and outdoor pools both allowed to expand their services to include exercise, diving and swim instruction.
Large gatherings will no longer be limited to 10 people, and will now allow up to 50 people. This includes indoor religious services, which are allowed to host 50% capacity for the time being, as long as attendees stay at 6 feet or more apart from each other and items cannot be passed from person to person.
Northam is still recommending social distancing, staying home, teleworking and face coverings in public.
The governor also announced a tentative plan for schools to open in the fall for the 2020-2021 school year. “All Virginia schools will open for students next year,” said Northam, who encouraged patience to allow for a transition to in-person instruction and opportunities, staggered schedules and phased reopenings.
As the school year gets closer, the schools will be required to submit their plans to the state on how they will organize curriculum and offer access to learning for all, as well as following social distancing and cutting down use of crowded areas like cafeterias. Reopening phases will be a minimum of two weeks per phase.
More information will be released as Northam continues to lead the state through the various stages of Forward Virginia, the commonwealth’s continuous opening plan.
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