Gov. Northam Anticipates Phase 1 of Reopening Virginia to Begin May 15

Executive order restricting non-essential businesses extended through May 14

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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam anticipates Phase 1 of reopening to begin May 15 with safety measures in place.

Northam is extending Executive Order 53, which restricts non-essential businesses, through May 14. The order, which also bans gatherings of 10 or more people, was scheduled to expire May 8.

"We will reopen next Friday," Northam said.

Northam said the state is seeing positive trends in data related to spread and treatment of the coronavirus pandemic, but he said more time is needed before restrictions can be eased.

It will still mean the vulnerable remain at home, no gatherings of more than 10 people, continued social distancing and possibly wearing face coverings at work. Restaurants, salons, gyms and other non-essential businesses will be allowed to reopen with safety measures like enhanced cleaning in place.

Restaurants will use less seating to allow diners to spread out, and employees will wear face masks.

He said he extended the executive order to allow businesses to prepare to reopen under new guidelines.

Northam said the commonwealth now has adequate hospital bed capacity and personal protective equipment supplies.

Northam says if the percentage of positive COVID-19 tests continues downward, Phase 1 will last about three weeks.

Phase 2 would then ease restrictions even more and Virginia could get back to normal sometime in July.

Virginia has already started to allow non-emergency medical procedures to resume.

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