PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Gov. Ralph Northam says he’s signed an executive order allowing hard-hit Northern Virginia to delay “phase 1” of loosening COVID-19 restrictions by two weeks, while the rest of the state looks to enter phase 1 this Friday, May 15.

Northam made the announcement Tuesday in a livestream interview with The Washington Post.

The order covers Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, and Vienna, and delays their reopening until midnight on Thursday, May 28.

Northam says officials from each of these localities requested the delay.

Related: Northam releases guidelines for Phase 1 of reopening Virginia May 15

Northam said Monday that Northern Virginia is still seeing about a 25% positive test rate, which is much higher than the rest of the state. Most other areas of the state are trending around 10%. Northam’s office emphasized that about 70% of new cases statewide on a given day can be attributed to Northern Virginia.

“As I have said, it’s important that the Commonwealth as a whole can meet key health metrics before moving into Phase One,” Northam said “The Phase One policies are a floor, not a ceiling. While the data show Virginia as a whole is are ready to slowly and deliberately ease some restrictions, it is too soon for Northern Virginia. I support the request from localities in this region to delay implementation of Phase One to protect public health.”

This is a breaking article. For more on Northam’s comments on Northern Virginia and more info on phase 1, click here.