Hello Phase 2, Are We Ready?

Places like Northern Virginia and Richmond are entering Phase 2 today (Friday, June 12, 2020) as part of the state’s segmented reopening plan. Why a week later than the rest of Virginia? The main reason is due to denser populations and the chance of spreading COVID-19 being higher.

Here are some of the changes coming today. (Copied directly from https://www.virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia/faq/)

  • Restaurants and beverage services may operate at 50% occupancy load with at least six feet of spacing between tables.
  • Non-essential retail may operate at 50% occupancy load.
  • Personal care and personal grooming services may operate at 50% occupancy load by appointment only, with no more than two clients per service provider.
  • Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, and indoor exercise facilities may operate at up to 30% occupancy load with at least ten feet of spacing between individuals.
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools may open for exercise, diving, and instruction only with at least 10 feet of physical distance between individuals in the pool.
  • Outdoor performing arts venues, concert venues, and movie theaters (excluding drive-in entertainment) may operate if the number of patrons does not exceed the lesser of 50% occupancy load (if there is an occupancy limit) or 50 patrons.
  • Properly permitted businesses may operate a drive-in model, where cars are parked at least six feet apart and participants must remain in their vehicle
  • Museums, Botanical Gardens, Aquariums, Zoos may open at 50% occupancy with no shared objects or touch-based interactive exhibits

The following businesses must remain closed to the public in Phase 2:

  • Indoor sporting venues, performing arts venues, concert venues, and movie theaters;
  • Historic horse racing facilities;
  • Bowling, arts and craft facilities, arcades, escape rooms, amusement parks, trampoline parks, gaming facilities, fairs, and carnivals; and
  • Overnight summer camps.

Although life will not return to pre-COVID-19 times, we’ll be able to taste some normalcy while having to digest the difficult changes. Officials recommend everyone continue to wear face masks, maintain social distancing of six feet apart from people in public areas, avoid social gatherings and continue to wash hands or sanitize frequently. Some places such as the county courthouses prevent entry unless you have a face mask and undergo a temperature screening. I’ve been at the Fairfax County Courthouse numerous times in the past few months to file documents for my clients and I agree that the extra precautions are a good thing. Keeping one another safe and preventing the spread is a duty for all of us to undertake especially considering how this pandemic has crippled our economy and taken so many lives. It was strange being in the courthouse and not seeing familiar faces such as other lawyers and courthouse employees. Some clerk windows are closed with only a phone handset that rings to someone I cannot match a face to.

The biggest concern for Virginia is a possible uptick in COVID-19 cases after Phase 2 begins. The Trump administration announced guidelines for reopening that included a 14-day decline of cases or a decline or positive cases for a state to implement reopening. Although some states failed to meet that criteria, the people got what they wanted and many of the states reopened and states such as South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas and Kentucky have seen sudden spikes in COVID-19 cases. While the exact reasons for increased cases aren’t certain, officials in those states are urging residents to exercise precautions to prevent the virus from proliferating.

While it won’t be easy, the guidelines for Phase 2 seem manageable. Hopefully, we are ready and the precautions are enough to prevent more infections of COVID-19. Please visit our previous blog post on COVID-19 Resources to help you with coping during these challenging times.