Governor extends nonessential business closures for one week, Phase 1 begins 5/15

May 4, 2020

RICHMOND, Va, (AP)- Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is extending an executive order mandating that some nonessential businesses close for another week, until May 15.

Northam announced at a news conference Monday that the state is seeing positive trends in data related to spread and treatment of the coronavirus pandemic, but he said more time is needed before restrictions can be eased. His executive order, which forces closed some businesses and severely restricts how others operate, was set to expire May 8. His order also bans gatherings of 10 or more in public or private.

The governor, a Democrat, has come under increasing pressure from Republican lawmakers and others to reopen the state like some other Southern states have done.

Northam says Virginia is looking to  enter phase 1 of reopening by next Friday, based on data his team is seeing, though he emphasized “this virus is still here. It has not gone away, and it will not go away.”

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Northam also said his stay-at-home order (which has closed Virginia’s beaches) will be reassessed.

Businesses would still have to maintain social distancing, and have enhanced cleaning and workplace safety. Northam says for example appointments will be required for hair cuts and restaurants will have to space out diners and staff will have to wear face coverings.

Face coverings will also be recommended for people going out into public spaces where social distancing is difficult.

Phase 1 could last 2-4 weeks or longer, Northam says. Phase 2 keeps many of the same restrictions but allows for gatherings of up to 50 people

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Phase 3 removes all restrictions on social gatherings and capacity limits for businesses, while still stressing cleaning and vulnerable populations staying home. Phase 3 likely won’t happen for 10-12 weeks or longer, state officials say.


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