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Northam announces guidelines for Phase One of reopening

11 May 2020 Covid19 Luray/Page County Shenandoah County Front Royal/Warren County Winchester Frederick County Clarke County News

Gov. Ralph Northam signed Executive Order Sixty-One over the weekend and presented a detailed framework for the first phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions. The new executive order modifies public health guidance the governor set in previous executive orders.

Northam said Phase One will begin no earlier than May 15, but it could be pushed back if data does not meet the public health criteria outlined by the state.

Under Phase One, the stay-at-home order will shift to a “Safer at Home” strategy, which continues the ban on social gatherings of more than 10 people and maintains recommendations for social distancing, teleworking and wearing face coverings. 

Retail establishments can operate at 50 percent occupancy while restaurant and beverage establishments are allowed outdoor dining at 50 percent occupancy. Personal grooming services are allowed to operate with one patron per service provider.

Fitness centers and gyms can offer outdoor exercise services. Campgrounds may also begin taking reservations for short-term stays.

Places of worship can continue drive-in services and services may be held inside at 50 percent capacity.

Many of the restrictions put in place by Executive Order Fifty-Three will remain in place in Phase One. All public and private in-person gatherings of more than 10 individuals are prohibited. Entertainment and public amusement venues will remain closed and beaches will continue to be open only for exercise and fishing. Child care centers remain open for children of working families. Overnight summer camps will remain closed in Phase One.

The governor stated he expects Phase One to last around two weeks, but that his administration would use data provided by the Virginia Department of Health to determine if it was safe to move forward

The full text of Executive Order Sixty-One can be found here. Phase One guidelines for specific sectors are available here. 

For more news from across the Shenandoah Valley, click here. 

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