Last Update :5/15/2020
Virginia Announces PHase I Guidelines - Forward Virginia Plan Effective Friday, May 15th
Virginia Announces Phase I Guidelines
"Forward Virginia" Plan Effective Friday, May 15th
Northern Virginia Counties, Accomack County and City of Richmond Remain in Phase 0
Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order Sixty-Two and presented a detailed framework for the first phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while containing the spread of COVID-19. The Phase One guidelines will be implemented when the data meets the public health criteria outlined by the Commonwealth. The new executive order modifies public health guidance in Executive Order Fifty-Three and Executive Order Fifty-Five and establishes guidelines for Phase One.
Under Phase One, the Commonwealth 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.
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 One, 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 Fifty-Three will remain in place in Phase One. 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 in Phase One.
Note: On May 9, 2020, local officials from the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, and the Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park, as well as the Towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, and Vienna (Northern Virginia Region) requested to remain in Phase Zero. Data provided in connection with that request reveals that with respect to hospitalizations, percent positivity, and case numbers, the Northern Virginia Region faces unique challenges when compared to the rest of the Commonwealth. The Northern Virginia Region is substantially higher than the rest of the Commonwealth in percentage of positive tests for COVID-19. The Northern Virginia Region has about a 25% positivity rate, while the rest of the Commonwealth is closer to 10%. Further, in the last 24 hours, the Northern Virginia Region reported over 700 cases, while the rest of the Commonwealth reported approximately 270. On any given day, 70% of the Commonwealth’s positive cases are attributable to the Northern Virginia Region.
On May 14, 2020, the City of Richmond and the County of Accomack requested to delay implementation of Phase One. Unlike many jurisdictions in the Commonwealth, the City of Richmond’s percent positivity of COVID-19 cases has failed to decrease over the past two weeks. Further, its total case count grew. Although Accomack’s population is .39% of the Commonwealth, its positive cases represent 2.14% of the statewide totals. Similarly, the number of COVID-19 cases in the County of Accomack continues to increase. Local health officials opine that the County of Accomack’s total positive cases could increase by over fifty percent in a matter of days. After considering the City of Richmond’s and the County of Accomack’s requests and the relevant data, I find the requests to delay entering Phase One and to remain in Phase Zero appropriate.
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