RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that Virginia will enter phase 3 of the state’s reopening plan next Wednesday, July 1.

Northam pointed to Virginia’s positive COVID-19 numbers (hospitalizations, new cases and percent of positive tests), which continue to trend in the right direction. phase 2 originally started Friday, June 5 in most of the state, with Northern Virginia and Richmond following June 12.

“This is because Virginians, you, have followed the guidelines of social distancing, hand washing, and use of facial protection and we encourage you to continue doing that,” Northam said.

That means most of Virginia will have gone about three and a half weeks in phase 2 when it enters phase 3. Phase 1 was about three weeks for most of the state.

Phase 3 includes:

  • Gatherings of up to 250 people can occur (Phase 2 allows up to 50)
  • Capacity restrictions on restaurants, retail lifted with physical distancing still required
  • Zoos, museums can open at 50%
  • Gym and fitness centers can go up to 75% of capacity, up from 30% in phase 2
  • Hair salons and other personal grooming will no longer be appointment only
  • Overnight summer camps will still be closed
  • Face coverings will still be required for indoor public spaces.

Northam says Virginians’ efforts to continue social distancing, hand washing and facial protection have been critical in getting the commonwealth to this point, and will be just as important going forward to keep Virginia’s curve flat.

“Everyone should continue to take this pandemic seriously,” Northam said. He emphasized how other states are seeing their COVID-19 numbers go up and he doesn’t want to see that in Virginia. He says Virginia can move back to phase 2 or even phase 1 if cases surge.

“Be cautious and take the necessary steps to protect yourself and the people around you,” said Northam.

For more info on what phase 3 means, click here.

More from Northam’s press conference:

VDH releasing COVID-19 data at nursing homes

Northam explained his decision last Friday to direct the Virginia Department of Health to release COVID-19 information from individual long-term care facilities (nursing homes and assisted living facilities), a major change after months of saying state code on patient privacy prevented their release. Northam pointed to a “lack of clarity” in the code and said he wants to see the General Assembly address the issue.

Northam initially said the decision to release the information was due to having more cases at nursing homes, but later said it was due to public federal data being unreliable.

1,013 of Virginia’s 1,645 COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care facilities.

Northam also addressed recent protests, saying there have been more than 480 in Virginia and most of them have been peaceful. However, he says, some of the recent protests in Richmond have not been peaceful.

“After three weeks it is no longer clear what the goals are or a path to achieve them, Northam said. “Clearly Richmond needs a different path forward. These nightly conflicts cannot continue indefinitely. I am hopeful the city and protesters can continue working toward meaningful policy change.”

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