RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is ushering the state into the final stage of his “Forward Virginia” reopening plan, but Richmond officials say they are “optimistic” about being able to move into Phase Three.
“This gives us about three and half weeks in phase two where we have been able to follow the data,” said Northam.
As of July 1, stores, restaurants and bars no longer have capacity limits, but social distancing measures will still be required. That also includes salons and barbershops.
Movie theaters, bowling alleys, and other indoor entertainment venues can finally reopen but only at 50% capacity. Meanwhile, more people can work out at the gym, which will have a capacity cap of 75%. But Northam’s indoor mask mandate remains in effect.
“I want to reiterate that everyone should continue to take this pandemic very seriously. Cases are on the rise in many other states,” said Northam.
The state’s public gathering ban goes from a 50-person limit to a 250-person limit. Childcare services across the state can reopen to anyone, not just working families.
“Obviously if we see surges in the commonwealth, and we’re going in the wrong direction, obviously we’re going to have to make some difficult decisions to do that,” said Northam.
As of Tuesday, the state’s percent positivity rate lowered to 6.4%. Daily death counts in the commonwealth are in flux, but the state’s health commissioner says that’s a lagging indicator and not a deterrent to moving into phase three.
“What’s reported yesterday in terms of deaths reflects something that happened weeks and weeks and weeks ago,” said Dr. Norm Oliver, Virginia Commissioner of Health.
A Richmond City Hall official said they are optimistic the city will move forward with the rest of the state next week. Locally, they’re watching percent positivity, hospitalizations and case numbers, all of which are going down. A final decision is expected later this week.
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