Pictured: Mallards Sandwich Shoppe in Accomac, a business that has closed their doors entirely during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At Wednesday’s Accomack County Board of Supervisors Meeting, Supervisor Ron Wolf, who was among those who voted to keep the county in Phase 0 of the Governor’s reopening plan last week, asked if the county would be required to move into Phase 1 at 11:59 pm on May 28 or would the county be able to join the rest of the state and move to phase 2. County Administrator Mike Mason quoted the Governor’s Executive Order, which stated that jurisdictions would be required to move into Phase 1 after the Phase 0 restrictions expire. Mason said he would contact the Governor’s office to see if Accomack County could have the option of skipping Phase 1 and move on to Phase 2 with the rest of the state.
One of the economically hardest hit areas of the county’s decision to remain in Phase 0 is Chincoteague. Chincoteague Supervisor Billy Joe Tarr stated that the some of the CARES Act money should be allocated as grants for small businesses that remained closed as a result of the county’s decision to remain shut down. Tarr said that the effect of the lock down on businesses like the campgrounds, restaurants and t-shirt shops on Chincoteague will be devestating and many of the small tourist related businesses may have to close permanently.
When asked about northern Virginia moving from Phase 0 to Phase 1 at his news conference Wednesday, Governor Northam said that leaders in Northern Virginia were “following the data” in determining not to move into Phase 1 of the reopening plan with the rest of the state. Accomack County also asked for a delay.
“We haven’t set any particular timeline,” the Democratic governor said. “We will continue to follow that daily. We will be in communication with those (local) leaders, and when they are comfortable, and when the data supports a movement into Phase 1, we will do so.”
According to the Governor’s remarks the Accomack County Supervisors may have to vote again on whether to move to Phase 1 or possibly Phase 2.
County Administrator Mike Mason said that with the CARES Act money restrictions that it would be virtually impossible for the county to spend all of the $2.8 million by the end of the year as required. Mason said that he and Deputy County Administrator Rich Morrison are in the process of determining how much of the money can be allocated as grants to small businesses. Morrison said that the grant application will be relatively simple and the money will be easy to apply for.
Mason said that he is aware that many of the small businesses are in very dire situations and cannot wait to July or August to receive grant funds. Mason told the Board that he is in the process of setting up the program and hopes to have the money available for the businesses as soon as it is possible to do so.