Governor Ralph Northam just announced that the majority of the counties in Virginia will enter Phase Two of reopening this Friday.

After weeks at Phase One, Virginia businesses have had time to get used to implementing social distancing procedures in everyday operations. Most counties in the state are reporting decreasing percentages of COVID-19 cases and sufficient stocks of personal protective equipment at area hospitals. In a recent press conference, Governor Ralph Northam announced the implementation of Phase Two on June 5.

Not every region is ready for more businesses to open up yet. Both Northern Virginia and Richmond will remain in Phase One for the time being. Additional data regarding COVID-19 cases and downward trends in new cases will be needed before they can join the rest of the state in expanding business reopenings.

The governor had this to say about the move to Phase Two:

“Because of our collective efforts, Virginia has made tremendous progress in fighting this virus and saved lives. Please continue to wear a face covering, maintain physical distance, and stay home if you are high-risk or experience COVID-19 symptoms. Virginians have all sacrificed to help contain the spread of this disease, and we must remain vigilant as we take steps to slowly lift restrictions in our Commonwealth.” — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

Highlights of Phase Two include:

  • Social gatherings can include up to 50 people, as opposed to 10 people per group in Phase One.
  • Gyms and fitness centers will be able to operate at 30 percent capacity for indoor visitors.
  • Restaurants will be able to offer indoor dining at 50 percent capacity.
  • Both indoor and outdoor pools can open to recreational swimming, diving, and organized lessons.
  • Faith-based institutions can continue to hold services at 50 percent capacity.
  • Retail shops can continue to allow customers in up to 50 percent capacity as well.

There is good news for culture buffs: you may be able to get back to your favorite museums, bontanical gardens, and zoos soon. Outdoor venues with no shared equipment can reopen "with restrictions," however, amusement parks, fairs, carnivals, and "indoor entertainment venues" like theaters and concert halls must remain closed for the time being.

Visitors to any businesses should maintain proper social distancing and continue to wear a face covering in Phase Two. Expect stores to keep a close tab on the number of patrons allowed in at any given time, and you may be asked for contact information in case of contact tracing down the line.

For more information, see the press release on the Phase Two transition here. You can also read the executive order in its entirety.

Do you think Virginia is ready to loosen its business restrictions? What kind of neighborhood changes are you seeing with the Phase One openings in your area? Sound off in the comments!