Virginia hasn’t reached Phase 3 of its reopening plan quite yet, but when Phase 3 comes about, face coverings will still be required to be worn inside public buildings. 

Gov. Ralph Northam made the announcement Thursday during a press conference in Northern Virginia, where he gave preliminary information regarding what to expect in Phase 3 as the state continues to reopen amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor set June 26 as the target date to begin Phase 3.

Northam, who said other states have seen COVID-19 cases rise from “opening too early” is taking the cautious approach although Virginia’s numbers continue to trend in a positive direction. Northam mentioned an incident in Florida where 16 people who gathered in a bar without face coverings and social distancing all tested positive for COVID-19. 

In the event of a COVID-19 resurgence, Northam said hospitals are prepared with adequate bed space and personal protective equipment. 

People are still encouraged to stay at home and work from home, especially those who are most vulnerable to the disease.

Highlights of Phase 3 will include the following: 

• Social distancing restrictions are required.

• Face coverings are required in public indoor buildings. 

• Social gathering maximum will increase to 250. 

• Non-essential retail businesses, restaurants and beverage services may return to full capacity with social distancing guidelines. 

• Personal grooming businesses must follow social distancing guidelines. 

• Recreational sporting activities must follow social distancing guidelines. 

• Entertainment facilities such as museums, zoos, and outdoor venues may open at 50 percent capacity with limits of 1,000 people. 

• Gyms, fitness centers and swimming pools may open at 75 percent capacity. 

• Overnight summer camps remain closed. 

As of today, the Virginia Department of Health reports 56,236 cases of COVID-19 in the state with 5,744 hospitalizations and 1,586 deaths. The death rate is listed as 1,482 confirmed COVID-19 deaths with the other 104 categorized as “probable.” 

Appomattox County has reported 34 cases with two hospitalizations and zero deaths. 

For the latest COVID-19 statistics in Virginia, visit https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus.

Read more stories in the current issue of the Smith Mountain Eagle newspaper. Pick up a copy or subscribe at www.smithmountaineagle.com/subscriber_services to view articles in the print and/or e-edition version.

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