UPDATE: Virginia enters Phase III on July 1

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Ralph Northam

~ Press release issued by the Governor’s Office on June 18

RICHMOND — Governor Ralph Northam has presented the third phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan to continue easing public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of COVID-19. Governor Northam announced that every region of the Commonwealth is expected to move to Phase Three on Wednesday, July 1.

Ahead of his bilingual COVID-19 press conference, the Governor met with local Latino leaders and community activists in Northern Virginia to discuss the issues they are facing in fighting this virus. Latino Virginians make up 45.3 percent of the cases for which Virginia has demographic data, and 35 percent of hospitalizations—even though Hispanic and Latino people make up about 10 percent of the Commonwealth’s population. 

As many states are experiencing a surge in new infections, Virginia’s case counts continue to trend downward. Virginia’s hospital bed capacity remains stable, the percentage of individuals hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test is trending downward, no hospitals are reporting PPE shortages, and the percent of positive tests continues to decline as testing increases. The Governor and Virginia public health officials will continue to evaluate data based on the key health indicators laid out in April. 

“Our Phase III guidelines will help Virginia families and businesses plan for what the next stage of easing public health restrictions will look like in our Commonwealth,” said Governor Northam. “While we may not have the same spike in infections that many states are seeing right now, Virginians need to remain cautious and do the things that we know reduce transmission: wear a face covering, maintain physical distance, and stay home if you are high-risk or experience COVID-19 symptoms. This virus is still with us, and we must continue to adapt our lives around it and ensure we are keeping our vulnerable communities safe.” 

In Phase III, the Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued recommendations for social distancing and teleworking, and the requirement that individuals wear face coverings in indoor public settings. The maximum number of individuals allowed in social gatherings will increase from 50 to 250 people.

All businesses should continue to follow physical distancing guidelines, frequently clean and sanitize high contact surfaces, and keep enhanced workplace safety measures in place. Restaurant and beverage establishments are required to maintain six feet of distance between tables, fitness centers may open indoor areas at 75 percent occupancy, and recreation and entertainment venues at may operate at 50 percent occupancy, or a maximum of 1,000 persons.

Swimming pools may also expand operations to free swim in addition to indoor and outdoor exercise, diving, and swim instruction. Overnight summer camps will remain closed in Phase III. 

• Phase III guidelines for specific sectors can be found here.

• Phase II guidelines are available here.

• Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions. 

• Read the Phase III guidelines in Spanish here

• View the slides from the June 18 presentation here.

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