Residents of Virginia who are eager to see restrictions on public lifted received some good news on Monday as Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced plans to begin the process of reopening the state as early as next week.
“We flattened the curve, and our hospitals have not been overwhelmed,” Northam said during a press conference on Monday. “I am keenly aware that it has come with a tremendous cost. Now, we can start to move into a new phase of our response.”
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Northam advised residents, “We must not relax our vigilance or think that the risk has passed.”
“To be clear, we are not entering phase one today nor this week. Based on the data, I expect that we may be able to enter it as soon as next week. Today, I’m going to outline what our phased approach of easing restrictions will look like and when that will happen,” he continued.
Additionally, he also urged residents to continue to practice social distancing and wear face coverings when they go out in public, as well as avoid gatherings of more than 10 people.
He also said that the phase one period of the reopening plan could last two to four weeks depending on whether cases rise as restrictions are lifted.
Northam shared an example of what life would look like as the restrictions on public life are lifted, “It means you can go out to eat again, but restaurants will use less of their seating to spread people out more. Employees will wear face coverings, and they’ll do more cleaning. Phase one means more retail establishments can be open, but they’ll have to operate at lower capacity.”
He also said the state would “accommodate the needs of churches.” That statement comes after the Department of Justice sided with a Virginia church that filed a challenge against the state’s shutdown order that limited the size of religious gatherings.