Northam: Virginia Beach to reopen May 22 with limitations

Group also working on plan to resume fall classes for students

Northam: Virginia Beach to reopen May 22 with limitations

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam says the sand along Virginia Beach can open to the public again on Friday.

Monday afternoon, Northam rolled out the Virginia Beach Access plan during a COVID-19 briefing. The plan will deploy 150 ambassadors to monitor people on the sand and make sure they are keeping their social distance.

“Virginia’s beaches offer important mental health benefits for rest, relaxation and exercise," said Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer.

Starting May 22, Virginia Beach will reopen for recreational activities with limitations. All other beaches in the state will remain closed except for exercise and fishing.

Dyer said cleaning protocols, education and enforcement are short-term inconveniences for a long-term gain against coronavirus.

“We have an opportunity to provide that safe outdoor space on one of the whitest beaches on the east coast: Virginia Beach," said Dyer. "Our city is committed to opening our beaches in a way that’s safe for our residents, visitors and thousands of front line staff who bring our beaches to life.”

House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert issued the following statement regarding Northam's decision to allow Virginia Beach to open on Friday: "We're finally seeing movement in the right direction, but there is still a disappointing lack of trust in people and local governments to be able to use what we know about this virus to be able to open as safely as possible. We can't stay shuttered forever. The Governor's energy should be focused on providing specific guidance to people and businesses on how to interact safely rather than telling them what they can't do."

Meanwhile, Republican State House Delegate Jason Miyares added the following: “It’s disappointing to see the Beach half-open. Mayor Dyer and his team put together a great plan that would have opened our beaches safely, and given our local businesses an earlier reprieve from this slow-motion disaster. Nonetheless, it’s good that people will be able to begin their summer at an oceanfront that is safe and open for business.”

We could have answers about the next steps for fall classes at K-12 public schools, as well as public and private higher education institutions.

“What the different phases look like and what reopening look like. There are going to be very specific gating criteria in place,” said Atif Qarni, Virginia Education Secretary.

The governor says a group of education leaders is looking at all options including what social distancing inside a classroom may look like.

“It’s not going to be a one plan fits all because, as we always say, this is a novel-virus and a lot of these questions could be answered more acutely if we knew how the virus was going to act,” said Northam.

With Phase One underway in most of the state, many courts across the state have reopened. That means potential evictions cases can start up again.

The governor says they’re working on a three-month mortgage deferral to help. CLICK HERE for more information.

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