Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced at a Tuesday afternoon press conference that he is comfortable moving most of Virginia into Phase Two starting Friday.
He said Northern Virginia and Richmond, who just moved into Phase One last Friday, would continue to remain in Phase One. The rest of Virginia has been in Phase One for nearly three weeks.
Moving into Phase Two of Northam’s Forward Virginia plan as he continues to see a downward trend in Virginians testing positive for COVID-19, allowd for more flexibility in restaurants, gyms, sports venues, entertainment venues and social gatherings.
He also said he would have more details on Phase Two in Thursday’s 2 p.m. scheduled press conference on COVID-19.
Previously, Virginians were asked to not gather in groups of no more than 10. Phase Two will allow for gatherings of 50 people.
He also said restaurants will now be able to have indoor seating at 50% capacity, and gyms will be able to members exercising inside at 30% capacity.
The Virginia governor also said Phase Two allows for pools to open with some restrictions, but he did not specify what those restrictions are.
As he allows for the start of recreation sports in Virginia, he said no shared equipment allowed.
While reminding Virginians that they were still safer at home during this pandemic, he did note that “health data continues to look good,” PPE for hospitals remain in good supply, bed capacity in hospitals remain steady, and Northam said the number of positive COVID-19 tests have a “slight downward trend.”
He also said teleworking and social distancing were recommended and reminded Virginians wearing face coverings are required in most buildings.
Announcing Phase Two is the second part of Northam’s Forward Virginia plan as he continues to open the economy after the coronavirus shuttered the brick and mortar of most businesses for several months.
He also took the time to address the protests and riots surrounding George Floyd’s death and reminded protestors to protest peacefully, wear a mask and remain distant.
In addressing the protests, he also said watching Floyd’s death was heartbreaking.
“Black oppression has always existed in this country, just in different forms,” said Northam.
But, he said, “Together we can turn this pain into action to right historic inequalities.”