RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is delaying Northern Virginia’s reopening amid the coronavirus outbreak until at least May 29, two weeks after the rest of the state is expected to reopen.
Northam said Tuesday he’s signed an executive order extending mandated closures and restrictions on businesses in Northern Virginia, a heavily populated area where regional officials have said they are not yet ready to reopen.
Northam ordered some businesses closed two months ago and his planned first phase of reopening will retain severe restrictions. Some retail businesses will reopen with limited capacity, but indoor gyms would remain closed, beaches would remain closed to sunbathers and restaurants would still be prohibited from indoor dine-in service.
Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
05/12/2020 Release from the Office of Governor Ralph Northam:
RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today issued Executive Order Sixty-Two, allowing specific localities in Northern Virginia to delay entering Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” plan to ease restrictions on certain business operations that were put in place in response to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Governor Northam has said that Virginia as a whole may enter Phase One on Friday, May 15, as outlined in Executive Order Sixty-One, based on achieving certain health metrics. Executive Order Sixty-Two allows the Northern Virginia localities to delay implementation of Phase One until midnight on Thursday, May 28, to allow those localities more time to meet the health metrics.
In conjunction with this executive order, Governor Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA also issued Order of Public Health Emergency Number Four.
“As I have said, it’s important that the commonwealth as a whole can meet key health metrics before moving into Phase One,” said Governor Northam. “The Phase One policies are a floor, not a ceiling. While the data show Virginia as a whole is are ready to slowly and deliberately ease some restrictions, it is too soon for Northern Virginia. I support the request from localities in this region to delay implementation of Phase One to protect public health.”
Governor Northam had directed jurisdictions to formally request approval to remain in Phase Zero. Executive Order Sixty-Two allows the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, and Vienna (Northern Virginia Region) to remain in Phase Zero, as requested by officials in those localities.
Data show that Northern Virginia is substantially higher than the rest of the commonwealth in percentage of positive tests for COVID-19, for example. The Northern Virginia Region has about a 25 percent positivity rate, while the rest of the commonwealth is closer to 10 percent. Further, in the last 24 hours, the Northern Virginia Region reported over 700 cases, while the rest of the commonwealth reported approximately 270. On any given day, 70 percent of the commonwealth’s positive cases are attributable to the Northern Virginia Region.
The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Two and Order of Public Health Emergency Number Four can be found here.