Northern Virginia, which has been closed since March, will start to stir again this Friday. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced on Tuesday that the region can finally begin Phase One. Most of the rest of the state entered the inaugural phase on May 15.
In the first step of the reopening process, non-essential businesses are permitted to come back to life, with caveats.
The first phase of the reopening will see non-essential businesses — salons, barber shops, restaurants, gyms, etc. — reopen with additional cleaning, safety precautions and social distancing. Among Virginia’s Phase 1 guidelines are:
- “Retail establishments may operate at 50% capacity”
- “Restaurant and beverage establishments may offer outdoor dining at 50% occupancy”
- “Personal grooming services may operate with one patron per service provider”
- “Fitness centers may offer outdoor exercise services” (Arlington NOW)
"The virus is clearly still here, but the numbers are trending in the right direction,” Northam said at his press conference.
There was another caveat for Virginians. Starting on Friday all individuals will be required to wear masks in indoor public spaces. Northam said there will be exceptions for eating, of course.
Northam has not practiced what he preached. He was criticized for not wearing a face mask on Virginia Beach last week.
Here's Gov. Ralph Northam social distancing with a mask on at the beach today... you know... like he tells everyone else to do. pic.twitter.com/8IUEGYH0GI— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) May 23, 2020
The governor admitted that he had been "unprepared" and left his mask in the car.
While most of Virginia is beginning to reopen, Washington, D.C. will remain a ghost town for at least a few more weeks. Mayor Muriel Bowser extended her Stay at Home Order and Public Health Emergency in the nation's capital until June 8.