RICHMOND, Va. - Gov. Northam says some parts of the state may keep coronavirus-related restrictions in place longer than the rest of the state.
The governor said on Wednesday that areas of the state hard hit by the virus, like northern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, may extend bans on certain business openings and public gatherings that are expected to expire May 15. This is also the order that restricts certain businesses and bans gatherings of more than 10 people.
He added that he’s been in regular contact with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser about how and when to reopen areas in and around the nation’s capital.
Republicans have been pushing Northam, a Democrat, to open sooner, like some other Southern states have done.
In a letter sent to Northam last week, Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer asked for beaches to be opened in Phase One of Northam's "Forward Virginia Blueprint," saying Virginia Beach's 28 miles of beachfront help create one of the top economic engines for Virginia Beach and the Commonwealth.
Northam previously said during Phase One, many businesses could start to re-open with strict safety restrictions, continued social distancing, continued teleworking and face coverings recommended in public.
Northam said, "This virus is still here, it has not gone away and it will not go away until we have a vaccination." He added, "All our efforts have slowed its spread but have not cured the disease."
Based on data, he said Virginia will not be entering phase 1 as of this week, but possibly could enter it as soon as May 15. Northam added that it will still be safer at home and we should continue to practice social distancing and wearing face coverings.
Phase one could last for two to four weeks, according to Northam. It keeps social gatherings to less than 10 people, calls for continued social distancing, teleworking, recommends face coverings, and eases limits on faith communities and businesses.
Phase one also calls for businesses to keep physical distancing up, enhance cleaning and disinfection and workplace safety. Different industries will have different guidelines. For example, people can get haircuts, but will have to schedule appointments. Restaurants will be able to resume dine-in service, but there will be limited seating.
Northam and his staff are using healthcare data as the basis for their decisions.
"Everything you have done has truly made a difference we flattened the curve and our hospitals have not been overwhelmed," he said.