On Tuesday evening, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that bar seating will remain prohibited in restaurants as the commonwealth moved into Phase Three on Wednesday.
While key health indicators in Virginia are improving, the governor made clear that he is taking a cautious approach and is prepared to implement tighter restrictions if needed.
To reduce the likelihood of patrons gathering in bar areas without observing social distancing guidelines, bar seating and congregating areas of restaurants will remain closed except for those passing through. Restaurants may use non-bar seating in the bar area, as long as a minimum of 6 feet between tables is provided.
“I am watching what is happening in other states — we are taking a cautious approach as we enter Phase Three and maintaining the current restrictions on bar areas,” said Northam. “In Virginia, our hospitalization rates have fallen, our percentage of positive tests continues to trend downward, and we are conducting more than 10,000 tests each day. We want these trends to continue, but if our public health metrics begin moving in the wrong direction, I will not hesitate to take action to protect the health and safety of our communities.”
Virginia is currently averaging more than 10,400 tests per day — exceeding Northam’s goal — and hospitals continue to report ample supplies of personal protective equipment. The percentage of positive tests has dropped to six percent from a high of 20 percent in mid-April. The number of Virginians hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test has declined significantly over the past several weeks, and more than 1,200 contact tracers are presently working throughout the commonwealth.
Despite these positive trends, Northam is monitoring increases in several states, and taking proactive steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia. Northam also continues to remind Virginians that they are safer at home, especially if they are high-risk or vulnerable. All Virginians must continue to comply with the statewide face covering requirement in indoor public spaces, and Virginians are strongly encouraged to:
• continue teleworking if possible
• wash hands regularly
• maintain six feet of physical distance when outside of home
• get tested immediately if you have COVID-19 symptoms