On May 4, 2020, Governor Northam extended Executive Order 53, which expanded COVID-19 related restrictions on businesses and public or private in-person gatherings, for an additional week through May 14, 2020.
During that time, the Commonwealth will continue examining COVID-19 data in hope of observing trends in three metrics signaling it is time for Virginia to begin a phased lifting of restrictions safely.The metrics the Governor hopes to observe include:
- A downward trend in the percentage of positive test results over a 14-day period;
- A downward trend in hospitalizations for COVID-19 over a 14-day period; and
- A downward trend in areas reporting personal protective equipment (PPE) deficiencies over a 14-day period.
If the data reflect these trends, Northam advised, the Commonwealth can begin Phase I of the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions.
What will PHASE I look like?
Phase I would change the Stay-at-Home Order to a “Safer-at-Home” directive, urging vulnerable populations to remain at home until at least June 10.
Social distancing would continue, as would the prohibition on social gatherings of more than 10 persons.
People returning to work will have to practice physical separation and both workers and customers will likely have to wear face coverings.
Businesses will have to implement periodic cleaning/disinfection of common areas and surfaces and will have to allow workers to take frequent breaks for hand cleaning.
Barbershops/salons will be able to resume operation, but will take customers by appointment only to reduce the number of patrons present at a given time, and utilize PPE.
Similarly, restaurants may resume dine-in service, and gyms and fitness centers can resume operation, albeit at limited capacity and with increased disinfection.
Governor Northam anticipates that Phase I will last approximately 2-4 weeks, followed by Phases II and III — also approximately 3 weeks in duration each – easing restrictions further according to metrics observed.
If Phase I goes well, for example, Phase II could see an increase in the social-gathering limit or the limit on patrons allowed at restricted businesses. Further information on what Phase I of the emergence from COVID-19 restrictions will involve and when Phase I will be implemented are expected by May 14.
For a recap of Executive Orders since March 12, 2020, see Updated: Expanded Restrictions on Virginia Businesses Through Exec. Order 53.
Read more legal updates on COVID-19 from Woods Rogers attorneys.