Virginia Could Begin Long Walk Down Road to Post-Pandemic Normalcy in Mid-May

May 5, 2020 by Dan McCue

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Monday that while the coronavirus remains a serious problem, enough appears to be going right that the time has come to consider reopening the state’s economy.

During a briefing with reporters, Northam said the number of new cases reported in Virginia on a daily basis has stabilized and that there appear to be enough hospital beds available to meet the current demand.

Northam said he currently anticipates reopening Virginia in three phases.

The first, which could start as soon as Friday, May 15, would come with a directive that people wear face masks to work, and that employees be given frequent, short breaks to wash their hands.

Conferences and trade shows would be allowed, but on a limited basis, and for as short a time as possible.

New guidelines for how businesses like gyms, restaurants and hair salons can safely start back up will also be announced at that time.

“You’ll be able to get your haircut, but you’ll need an appointment, and you’ll see new safety measures in the salon,” said Northam.

Those measures will likely include more space between staff and customers, more cleaning and new rules designed to protect workers.

Phase two would, at the earliest, come at least three weeks later, with eased restrictions, and a ban on gatherings of 50 or more.

Phase three, which likely won’t come for 6 to 10 weeks, will include the current “stay-at-home” order being amended to “safer at home” order for the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions.

The ban on social gatherings will be lifted, as will the limit on customers in shops and restaurants.

“To move to phase three, we’re looking for no evidence of rebound for a sustained period of time,” Northam said.

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