Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, the only doctor-governor in the country, provided some good news to his residents on Monday when he said that a reopening could come “as soon as next week.”
The governor previously locked down the state until June 10th, one day after its primary election was initially schedule before he postponed it to the 23rd.
“We flattened the curve, and our hospitals have not been overwhelmed,” Northam said during a press conference on Monday, the Independent Journal Review reports. “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.”
The governor cautioned residents to remain vigilant in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus: “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,” he clarified. “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.”
Northam said businesses around the state would have to operate differently when they finally reopen, careful to follow new health guidelines.
On reopening, the governor said: “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.”
ABC 8 News adds:
Northam laid out what ‘Phase One’ of his reopening plan will look like in more detail on Monday. The plan mimics the White House’s guidelines.
- The ‘stay at home’ order becomes a ‘safer at home’ advisory
- Vulnerable populations should continue to shelter in place
- No social gatherings of more than 10
- Teleworking is encouraged but some can return to the workplace
- Face coverings recommending in public
- Eased limitations on businesses and faith communities
The big difference will be that movie theaters, gyms, salons, churches, restaurants and retailers will be able to open back up with strict social distancing rules, enhanced sanitation and safety guidelines for employees.
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Watch Northam’s comments below: