Gov. Northam’s guidelines for reopening Virginia include easing restrictions for restaurants, salons

Phase one begins on May 15
Updated: May. 8, 2020 at 5:32 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - As Virginia inches ever-closer to reopening, the plan to get the commonwealth back up and running is now out.

Phase one of Governor Ralph Northam’s “Virginia Forward” plan is still set to begin May 15.

“In many ways it will look like what we’ve been doing,” said Northam. “While there are a few more places to go, everyone should still only go there as needed and otherwise stay home as much as possible.”

Restaurants and beverage services, for the most part, will still be take out or delivery. But establishments fortunate enough to have outdoor seating can have diners outside at 50% capacity. Workers are required to wear a mask.

REOPENING VIRGINIA: Governor Northam announced his "Phase 1" plan Friday afternoon. It's set to begin on May 15. Read full details here >>

Posted by NBC12 on Friday, May 8, 2020

Northam went on the defense during a COVID-19 briefing Friday when he was asked why heavy restrictions still remain on the struggling industry.

“We have had tremendous amount of discussion with our restaurant owners. A lot of their input we have listened to and taken into account and collectively we have made that decision. And so rather than re-litigate that here, that’s the decision we’ve made," said Northam.

Non-essential retail can soon open at 50% occupancy. But again, employees must wear a face mask.

Places of worship can now operate at 50% capacity, though drive-in and online services are still encouraged.

“The restrictions on business operations such as distancing and masks are meant to protect workers as much as customers,” said Northam.

Indoor gyms must remain closed, but operators can take workouts outsides as long as they keep it to 10 people and 10 feet apart.

Salons and barbershops can open up, but by appointment only, and with strict guidelines including masks for employees and clients and no services that involve removing the mask like a beard trim.

“If they’re not able to meet these restrictions, they must remain closed. No business is required by the state to be open,” said Northam.

Bowling alleys and movie theaters will still remain closed under phase one of the plan. Beaches will continue to have the same limitations that are already in place.

Social gatherings of 10 or more are still banned and teleworking or working from home should be used whenever possible. Face masks are also still recommended while in public.

However, Northam says some parts of the state may keep coronavirus-related restrictions in place longer than the rest of the state.

The governor said Wednesday that areas of the state hard hit by the virus, like northern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, may extend bans on certain business openings and public gatherings that are expected to expire May 15.

Phase one is expected to last at least two weeks.


  • Non-essential retail: 50 percent permitted capacity
  • Restaurant and beverage services: Takeout and delivery
  • Salons: By appointment only and strict guidelines at 50% occupancy
  • Entertainment: Bowling alleys, theaters, etc. remain closed.
  • Fitness: Indoor gyms remain closed
  • Places of worship: 50% capacity
  • Beaches continue to have a 10-person limit for fishing and exercise

On Monday, Governor Ralph Northam announced a three-phase plan to reopen the state’s economy.

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