Restrictions on restaurants, stores, gyms and pools will loosen in Virginia starting next week.
Virginia's governor says data shows the state is ready to move into reopening phase three as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Phase three can begin in the state starting Wednesday, July 1, he said at a news conference Tuesday. Northam says Northern Virginia also will move into phase three, unless local leaders inform him otherwise.
The governor urged Virginians to continue to take the pandemic seriously.
"Cases are on the rise in many other states ... I do not want to see that happen in our commonwealth," he said.
Phase three allows for gatherings of up to 250 people and will lift capacity limits on restaurants and nonessential retail stores. Social distancing guidelines will remain in place, though. Restaurant tables must be six feet from each other.
Gyms and fitness centers will be able to operate at up to 75% capacity.
Recreation and entertainment venues will be able to operate at 50% occupancy or with a maximum of 1,000 people.
Pools will be able to offer free swim in addition to indoor and outdoor exercise, diving and lessons.
Overnight summer camps will remain closed.
Social distancing will still be required and masks will continue to be strongly encouraged in indoor public spaces.
Fairfax County is “hopeful” it will be able to move into phase three, County Chairman Jeffrey McKay said Tuesday.
“While we are awaiting a formal report from our health directors on the data, preliminarily, our data continues to meet the necessary criteria,” he said in a statement.
Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey said, “Our numbers and trends are good in Arlington.”
Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said he had not heard of any effort to delay the start of phase three in the city.
The jurisdictions have agreed to move into reopening phases together. Northern Virginia joined most of the state in reopening phase two on June 12. The area was particularly hard hit by the virus.
The data in Virginia shows that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients and number of new cases continue to trend downward.
The Virginia Department of Health will start releasing the names of long-term care facilities with virus outbreaks, Northam said.
Prior to the release of federal data about coronavirus outbreaks in nursing homes in early June, the state of Virginia had refused to release its data.
"Given that CMS is releasing federal data, some of which, by the way, is incorrect, we felt it was important to take another look at this," Northam said of his decision.
A stay-at-home order first went into effect in Virginia on March 30. Since the start of the pandemic, the state says nearly 57,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus. At least 1,559 have died.