Friday, April 19, 2024

Northam outlines 1st phase of reopening, which will be by the end of next week

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)
(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Unsplash)

Gov. Ralph Northam said Monday businesses across the state could reopen as early as next Friday.

“To be clear, we are not entering Phase 1 today or this week,” he said.

Northam is extending an executive order mandating that some nonessential businesses close for another week, until May 15. The order, which closed some businesses and severely restricts how others operate, was set to expire May 8.

As of Monday, there are 19,492 positive cases of the coronavirus and 684 deaths, according to the Virginia Department of Health’s website. The African American population has 3,469 cases (26 percent) and 157 deaths (27 percent) while the Latino population has 4,039 cases (45 percent) and 40 deaths (7 percent).

Here are the local numbers:

The latest numbers of positive coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the Virginia Department of Health. (WYDaily/ Julia Marsigliano)
The latest numbers of positive coronavirus cases, hospitalizations and deaths from the Virginia Department of Health. (WYDaily/ Julia Marsigliano)

Northam outlined a three-phase approach to reopen the state, including guidelines for restaurants, non-essential business such as hair salons and recreation facilities like gyms.

He added he would extend Executive Order 53 to May 15 and adjust the stay-at-home order to “safer at home rather than stay at home.”

Each phase is expected to last three weeks.

Phase 1

  • No social gatherings of more than 10 individuals
  • Continued social distancing
  • Continued teleworking
  • Easing limits on business and faith community
  • Phase I: 2-4 weeks or more

Business: Phase 1

  • Physical distancing
  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting
  • Enhanced workplace safety
  • Phase 1: 2-4 weeks or more
  • More guidelines published later

Northam said Virginians can make hair salon appointments, eat at restaurants, visit retail establishments, go the gym, visit farmers markets and go to church.

However, the entities will have social distancing guidelines such as seating customers farther apart from one another, operate at a lower capacity and employees will wear face coverings.

Phase 2

  • Stay at home for vulnerable population
  • No social gathering of more than 50 individuals
  • Continued social distancing
  • Continued telework
  • Face coverings recommended in public
  • Further easing business limitations

It’s unclear what Phase 3 will look like.

When asked if Northam would re-open rural areas or other parts of Virginia, he said plans to “do this as a commonwealth rather than do this by region,” adding he feels people will probably travel to areas that are open.

Some facilities like campgrounds may reopen and more guidelines are expected this week.

“The message today is we will reopen Virginia next Friday,” he added.

Other updates

  • Personal Protective Equipment: Northam said Virginia has enough.
  • Battelle units: Blacksburg up and running, Richmond and Newport News running this week.
  • Physicians: Friday webinar regarding COVID-19 testing.
  • Unemployment: Virginia Employment Commission is waiting for guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor for people who are collecting unemployment and may not feel safe returning back to work.
  • Contact tracers: Virginia is hiring hundreds of case workers at VDH and more than 1,000 contact tracers.
  • Mixed drinks: Available for take-out, curbside pick up or delivery until restaurants operate at full capacity.
  • Resilience Week Virginia: Find virtual events, training for kids and other resources here.


Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano
Julia Marsigliano is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She covers everything on the Peninsula from local government and law enforcement agencies to family-run businesses and weather updates. Before WYDaily, she covered Hampton and Newport News for WYDaily’s sister publication, HNNDaily before both publications merged in December 2018. Julia was born in Tokyo, Japan and moved to Long Island, New York in 2001. A true New Yorker, she loves pizza, bagels and good Chinese food. Send comments, tips and other tidbits to You can follow her on Twitter at @jmarsigliano

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