Northern Virginia Close to Reopening

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Northern Virginia businesses could start the first phase of reopening at the end of the week.

In order to start Phase 1, leaders in Northern Virginia identified six key metrics health officials say are crucial to a safer reopening. As of Monday, only four of those qualifications have been met.

Increased coronavirus testing was a primary goal before leaders in Northern Virginia say they'd be comfortable initiating reopening.

News4's Drew Wilder reports on the six metrics Northern Virginia needs to meet in order to start reopening.

One free testing center in Alexandria saw a long line of cars Monday. Mayor Justin Wilson said another testing location is in the heart of one of the hardest hit zip codes in the entire Commonwealth.

"This is a situation where we recognize that we still have a heck of a lot work to do," Wilson said.

The two metrics the region hasn't met are the need for contact tracing infrastructure and an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, or PPE, officials say.

Hospitals report ample PPE, but out-patient facilities are still struggling to get what they need for the long term.

Gov. Ralph Northam is considering Northern Virginia's progress.

"Given where the numbers are at, it probably lends itself to moving into Phase 1," Wilson said. "But, ultimately, that's going to be the governor's call."

Phase 1 allows restaurants with outdoor seating to fill 50 percent capacity. Hair salons and non-essential retail stores can open with some restrictions.

"Even during re-opening, the virus has not gone away. We still have it in our community, we still have community-wide transmission and we're anticipating during the re-opening phases we're going to have an increase in the number of cases at various times," Dr. Stephen Haering, the Alexandria health director said.

Wilson says to expect the lower end of King Street to stay closed this weekend.  If Phase 1 begins, the city will likely allow restaurants to expand their outdoor seating onto the sidewalks and into the street. 

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