help_outline Skip to main content
Add Me To Your Mailing List

News / Articles

Gov. Northam Outlines Plans for Phase 3 of Virginia’s Reopening

 | Published on 6/18/2020
Article provided by (

Gov. Northam outlines plans for Phase 3 of Virginia’s reopening

RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — Governor Ralph Northam addressed the commonwealth on Thursday for his latest briefing amid both the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing civil unrest over the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other black Americans.

On Tuesday, the governor spent a little time discussing COVID-19 and the latest data in Virginia, but most of the press conference was dedicated to his announcement that he was proposing legislation to make Juneteenth an official state holiday in Virginia.

He also said that Virginia will not enter Phase 3 of reopening this week, but that he would have more details on what to expect for Phase 3 in Thursday's press conference.

Last Thursday, the governor outlined a plan for colleges and universities to reopen this coming fall, while addressing his plan to remove the Robert E. Lee monument from Richmond’s Monument Avenue and Richmond protests, which have remained ongoing.

So now, on June 18, Gov. Northam addressed what his plan for Phase 3 of reopening the commonwealth will look like as trends on hospitalizations, deaths, and percent positivity continue heading down.

As of Thursday morning’s latest COVID-19 numbers for Virginia, the ‘percent positivity’ rate of how many Virginians are testing positive for COVID-19 has been steadily decreasing over time, though daily testing numbers in recent days have fallen.

Northam has said that the restrictions established by his administration are "the floor" and that it's up to individual businesses whether they are able to safely reopen and individual regions can request changes if their data is different from the state's overall.

As of June 18, Virginia has 56,238 total cases of COVID-19, including confirmed lab tests and clinical diagnoses, with 1,586 total deaths and 5,744 cumulative hospitalizations.

According to the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, there are currently 857 Virginians hospitalized with either confirmed COVID-19 tests or pending COVID-19 test results and 7,493 patients who were hospitalized and have recovered.

In general, over the past month, test results have yielded lower daily case totals and increased testing, showing the "curve" of Virginia cases moving downward.

But the commonwealth is still working to overcome an earlier backlog in testing and catch up to the national average of how much of the population has been tested, although state health officials say their focus is getting tests to the most vulnerable and most affected people.

Governor Ralph Northam hosted Thursday's press conference from a government meeting space in Fairfax County, with elected officials from around the Northern Virginia area around the podium to join him, as well as leaders from the Latino community in northern Virginia specifically.

The press conference began with an update from the governor on the latest data metrics, followed by Northam presenting a slideshow outlining the plan for Phase 3 guidelines, and then the majority of the event was meant to address the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on Latino communities around Virginia, but especially in northern Virginia, including Spanish language updates.

The plan for Phase 3

Gov. Northam began his update about Phase 3 on Thursday by reiterating his point from Tuesday that Virginia is not entering Phase 3 this week.

While Virginia's COVID-19 metrics have been steadily improving, with daily case totals, hospitalizations, deaths, and percentage positivity all decreasing, Northam said his administration needs more time to be able to further evaluate the data.

However, while he announced no date for Phase 3 to begin, he did outline what Phase 3 will mean for Virginia businesses.

To start, he explained that Phase 3 will encourage Virginians to follow many of the same guidelines that have been recommended for Virginians throughout the pandemic, including:

  • Virginia’s ‘Safer at Home’ order asking people throughout the commonwealth to stay at home when possible, especially if vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19
  • The commonwealth’s recommendation for people to continue to telework if at all possible to reduce exposure to the virus
  • Executive Order 63, the face-covering mandate, will stay in effect

Gov. Northam said Virginians need to remember that face coverings are "the right thing to do" to protect others around them.

However, Phase comes with key changes, including:

  • Virginia's 50-person limit on gatherings established in Phase 2 (that was an increase from the original 10-person limit) will expand to a 250-person limit
  • Non-essential retail establishments’ capacity limit will be lifted, but physical distancing still required
  • Restaurants’ capacity limit will be lifted, but physical distancing still required
  • Entertainment venues (including museums and zoos) will have their capacity limit raised to 50% with a maximum of 1,000 people in any space
  • Gyms and fitness centers will have their capacity limit raised from 30% to 75%
  • Personal grooming services will still need to follow all existing distancing requirements
  • Childcare services can reopen across Virginia
  • Overnight summer camps remain closed in Phase 3
  • Public pools will be allowed to open up to 75% capacity, with distancing requirements in place

The governor said more detail on the guidelines will be posted on the Governor of Virginia website soon.

Facial coverings will still be required in all public indoor spaces and on public transportation, and Gov. Northam reminded Virginians that it's essential to not just wear them, but wear them properly.

He said he is proud of all Virginians who have shown responsibility for their neighbors by wearing masks.

Moving forward

Northam emphasized that the commonwealth is not moving to Phase 3 yet, though health data remains positive, and said his team is also monitoring other states to consider what's happening with cases and surges around the country.

Northam said he's speaking with other governors around the U.S. weekly to compare and contrast strategies.

He also reminded people that, even once the commonwealth moves into Phase 3, "just because something is allowed doesn't mean it's required," effectively describing how businesses don't have to reopen if their staff does not feel comfortable doing so.

"Just because there are more places to go doesn't mean you have to go there," he also said, asking Virginians to keep considering wants vs. needs and continue being careful when in the public.

While saying restrictions may ease, Northam said the virus has not gone anywhere and said it will be even more important in Phase 3 for people to be cautious when going out in public.

Keep using common sense, the governor said, staying physically apart, wearing facial coverings, and washing hands frequently – all CDC-recommended strategies.