Virginia to enter phase three

Virginia to enter phase three
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam. (Photo/Office of the Governor)

By Cody Mello-Klein |

Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) announced on Tuesday that Virginia will enter phase three of his reopening plan on July 1.

In phase three, people will be allowed to gather in groups of up to 250 people, increasing from a 50-person maximum in phase two. Restaurants, which were allowed to offer indoor dining at 50 percent capacity in phase two, will be allowed to open fully but are required to maintain six feet of distance between tables, according to a June 18 news release from the governor’s office.

Fitness and exercise centers can open indoor areas at 75 percent capacity, and entertainment venues will be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity in phase three, according to the release.

Some elements of the reopening will remain the same: Social distancing, handwashing and teleworking are still encouraged, and residents will still be required to wear face coverings indoors in public places, according to the release.

Most Virginia localities entered phase two earlier this month, on June 5, while Northern Virginia entered phase two on June 12. The second phase of Northam’s reopening plan further eased restrictions on public gatherings, allowed restaurants to open indoor dining options and permitted fitness centers and certain recreation facilities to open at limited capacity.

Even as cases of COVID-19 are surging in some states, including Florida and California, Virginia has experienced a decline in positive cases and hospitalizations. Northam said that the state now employs almost 1,000 contact tracers and is ad- ministering between 8,000 to 12,000 tests daily.

As of Wednesday, Virginia had 59,514 total cumulative cases of COVID-19, 5,955 total resulting hospitalizations and 1,661 COVID-realted deaths, according to the Virginia Department of Health. The seven-day moving average of statewide confirmed cases has trended downward since its peak in mid-May.

Alexandria has reported 2,258 cases, 231 hospitalization and 50 fatalities, according to the VDH.