The Virginia Department of Corrections said it expects in-person family visitation will be resumed at all facilities statewide by Oct. 1.
VIRGINIA —The Virginia Department of Corrections is planning a phased-in reopening to visitors, with attorneys, court officials and other official visitors allowed to enter prisons and meet with prisoners starting July 15. The state plans to open prisons to religious visitors and volunteers on Aug. 1 and open pilot sites for in-person family visitation by Sept. 1, the Department of Corrections said Thursday. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in Virginia in March 2020, family members, attorneys and others who needed to meet with prisoners met with them via video. The department said it expects in-person family visitation will be resumed at all facilities statewide by Oct. 1. People 12 and older will be required to take a self-administered COVID-19 rapid antigen test and must receive a negative test result in order to visit an inmate or Community Corrections Alternative Program probationer in person, the department said. Inmates and CCAP probationers who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be eligible to meet with members of the public in person. Video visits will continue to be available to unvaccinated inmates. Currently, 72 percent of Virginia prison inmates and CCAP probationers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 65 percent are fully vaccinated. As of Thursday, there were four active COVID-19 cases among incarcerated people and 13 among staff, according to the department. The Virginia Department of Corrections is administering the two-dose Moderna vaccine to prisoners. Through Virginia's Inmate Early Release Program in place during the pandemic, 2,185 inmates were released early, according to the department. However, the Department of Corrections' authority to release inmates early ended July 1 as specified in an April 22, 2020 budget amendment approved by Gov. Ralph Northam.