"We are not opening the floodgates," Governor Northam said.

In his COVID-19 briefing on Friday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced the details of the state's Phase One reopening. He termed the gradual opening a "safer at home" order, as opposed to the stay-at-home order currently in place. These guidelines are expected to go into effect Friday, May 15, should cases "continue to trend downward." However, the new order could be postponed, revoked, or extended at any time. Here are the details.

"Stay-at-home" is now "safer at home"

  • Phase One rules and guidelines will "hopefully" go into effect Friday, May 15. Northam anticipates Phase One to last approximately two weeks but says this could change at any time.

Northam said the "safer-at-home" order may revert back to a stay-at-home order at any time and that all of these dates are subject to change. He says the decision to revert, extend, or loosen these guidelines will be based on case counts, trends, and CDC data. When asked who will enforce these guidelines, Northam said, much like before, law enforcement officers will have the ability to issue citations.

The 10-person limits on social gatherings will remain in place, face masks are strongly encouraged, telework recommendations remain unchanged, and you are safer at home especially if you are vulnerable, the governor continued.

"Although there are more places to go, everyone should only go there as needed," Northam said in the briefing.

Some businesses may open with restrictions

  • Restaurants with outdoor seating, fitness centers with outdoor exercise classes, and hair salons ("personal grooming centers") may reopen for appointments, with strict limitations.

Northam also announced revised business limitations under Phase One. Non-essential retail stores may open with 50-percent limit capacity; hair salons and grooming services may reopen for appointments only with strict requirements; fitness centers and gyms may open for outdoor classes only; private campgrounds will reopen; places of worship may increase building capacity to 50 percent; and restaurants with outdoor seating only may reopen those sections with a 50% limit on capacity.

Beaches, state parks, childcare centers, movie theaters ("entertainment centers"), and overnight summer camps will remain closed (if they are currently closed) or open with existing restrictions.

Who can open, who can't, and what the rules are

  • Non-essential retail stores
    • Open with 50-percent capacity
    • Previous: Open with 10-person limit on capacity
  • Restaurants, bars, and breweries
    • Open for outdoor seating only with 50-percent capacity, open for takeout and delivery only
    • Previous: Open for takeout and delivery only
  • Gyms and fitness centers
    • Open for limited outdoor classes only
    • Previously: Closed
  • Entertainment, amusement, and movie theaters (no change)
    • Closed
    • Previous: Closed
  • Churches, mosques, synagogues, and other places of worship
    • Open for drive-in services, 50-percent limit on indoor capacity
    • Previous: Open drive-in services,10-person limit on indoor capacity
  • Hair salons and personal grooming
    • Open with severe restrictions
      • Appointments only
      • Strict social distancing 
      • Face masks required
    • Previous: Closed

  • Private campgrounds
    • Open
    • Previous: Closed
  • Beaches (no change)
    • Open for exercise and fishing only ("hopes to ease up soon")
    • Previous: Open for exercise and fishing only 
  • State parks (no change)
    • Open for day use only (social distancing requiring, overnight opening "in phases")
    • Previous: Open for day use only
  • Childcare facilities (no change)
    • Open for working families
    • Previous: Open for working families
  • Overnight summer camps (no change)
    • Closed
    • Previous: Closed

More Updates

Phase One Virginia Guidelines Slideshow 2
Governor Northam used a slideshow to outline the "safer-at-home" order's Phase One restrictions. (Courtesy of Virginia Office of the Governor/WAVY TV-10 Livestream)

The state will continue to monitor the case count carefully, but the governor is optimistic about increased health care capacity and the success of our current guidelines. Of the state's current stay-at-home order, Northam said, "We had one blunt tool ... and it is working."

Northam said he anticipates Phase One lasting approximately two weeks. He says these restrictions will "slowly ease soon" should case counts "continue to decrease."