Sunday, May 28, 2023

Still confused about Phase 1 reopening? Here’s an easy-to-follow guide

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

Forward Virginia.

That’s the name of the plan to “to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19.”

The target date is May 15 – but Gov. Ralph Northam said the process will be gradual and many restrictions will remain in place for at least several more weeks.

Phase 1 guidelines will be implemented when the data meets the public health criteria outlined by the state, according to the governor’s office.

Executive Order 61 modifies public health guidance in Executive Order 53 and Executive Order 55 and establishes guidelines for Phase 1.

The plan allows localities to consider delaying implementation of Phase One guidelines based on local conditions.

Under Phase 1, the state will move to a “safer-at-home” strategy, which continues the ban on social gatherings of more than 10 people and maintains recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and wearing face coverings.

All businesses should make modifications to maintain six feet of physical distancing, increase cleaning and sanitization of high contact surfaces, and provide enhanced workplace safety measures, according to the governor’s office.

(WYDaily/Courtesy of the Governor's Office)
(WYDaily/Courtesy of the Governor’s Office)

Retail establishments will be allowed to operate at 50 percent occupancy, restaurant and beverage establishments may offer outdoor dining at 50 percent 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.

Places of worship have had a 10-person limit and have been allowed to hold drive-in services allowed. In Phase 1, drive-in services may continue, and services may be held inside at 50 percent capacity.

Specific guidelines for religious services can be found here.

Many of the restrictions put in place by Executive Order 53 will remain in place in Phase 1. Entertainment and public amusement venues will remain closed and beaches will continue to be open only for exercise and fishing.

Childcare centers remain open for children of working families. Overnight summer camps will remain closed.

Phase 1 guidelines for specific sectors are available here.

Here’s more info on Forward Virginia.


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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