Northern Va. reopening delayed until May 29
Governor says the rest of the state will enter Phase One this Friday
In a new executive order, Gov. Ralph Northam allows localities in Northern Virginia to delay reopening nonessential businesses until Friday, May 29, two weeks after the rest of the state enters Phase One of the governor’s “Forward Virginia” plan.
The counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William, as well as the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas and Manassas Park, and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg and Vienna will remain in what the governor has dubbed “Phase Zero” after elected officials and health department directors said the region wasn’t ready in a letter sent to Northam on Sunday. Northern Virginia has significantly more positive COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations than the rest of Virginia — up to 70% of the state’s positive cases on any given day are in the region, according to the governor’s news release.
“While the data show Virginia as a whole is ready to slowly and deliberately ease some restrictions, it is too soon for Northern Virginia,” Northam said in a statement announcing Executive Order 62 and Order of Public Health Emergency No. 4, which allow the delays in the region.
At Monday’s coronavirus news conference, Northam said he asked the region’s elected officials to send him a letter signed by leaders in the four counties and the city of Alexandria to demonstrate that they were unified in calling for a delay in reopening hair salons, restaurant dining rooms, bowling alleys and other nonessential businesses.
Not all elected officials in Northern Virginia were happy with the news, however. During the May 12 Fairfax County Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Pat Herrity, who represents the Springfield District, said, “I think the best way we can help small businesses is to move very carefully toward the new, or the next normal. The rest of Virginia is going to get a chance to step toward that on May 15, and I’m disappointed that Fairfax businesses and residents aren’t going to get that very small step.”
When Executive Order 61 takes effect midnight Thursday, businesses closed in March to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will be allowed to reopen on a limited basis. The state has issued guidelines to keep patrons and employees safe, including requiring social distancing, keeping gatherings no larger than 10 people and workers wearing masks and other protective gear.