PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — “Phase 1” of Virginia’s 3-stage coronavirus economic reopening plan started Friday, May 15 for most of Virginia, excluding hard-hit areas in Northern Virginia, Accomack County on the Eastern Shore and Richmond City, which all requested delays of at least two weeks.

Phase 1 reopens several types of businesses originally closed to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus and avoid overwhelming Virginia’s hospitals, including salons and barbershops, expands capacity limits up to 50% in churches and non-essential retail, and allows outdoor seating at restaurants at 50% capacity.

Friday case update: 859 new cases, 22 new deaths reported as most of Va. enters phase 1 of reopening

Restaurant dining rooms will still be closed, and gatherings outside of churches will still be held to a 10-person limit, as Gov. Northam’s stay-at-home order is still in effect until June 10.

Beaches are notably still closed to everything except exercise and fishing as part of that June 10 order, and entertainment businesses such as theaters, zoos and amusement parks are still closed. Gyms are also still closed except for outdoor classes.

Childcare centers remain open for children of working families, and summer camps will remain closed in Phase 1.

Here’s the breakdown:

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Salons and barbers

Personal grooming businesses can reopen by appointment only in phase 1, and face masks are required (businesses must provide face coverings for clients to wear). Capacity must not exceed 50%, with only one appointment per service provider at a time.

Not all personal service businesses are included in phase one. Jenn Sorrells, the owner of the Skin Bar in Newport News, says Northam’s executive order requires face coverings, since her business mainly provides facials, she will follow the order and keep her doors closed as a safety precaution.

More on mandatory requirements and other information here.


Under phase 1 reopening procedures in Virginia, no customers are allowed inside any restaurant. If businesses have a permit for outdoor seating, they can fill that area at 50-percent capacity.  Customers will need to be spaced out. 

Some restaurants, like Four Eleven York in Norfolk are even going beyond what the governor is requiring. Their website says they’re conducting temperature checks and if anyone’s exceeds 100 degrees Fahrenheit, they and everyone in their party will be asked to leave.

But not all restaurants are comfortable with allowing customers to sit outside their shops just yet.

10 On Your Side also spoke with Brian Williams, the owner of Terrapin Restaurant in Virginia Beach. Terrapin has an outdoor seating section, but Williams says they are opting to stick to takeout and delivery only.

“We think it’s a little too early to be doing this for us to be feeling safe and keeping our employees safe and guests safe,” he said. “We’re going to take our time and we’re developing policies and procedures right now.”

More details what is and isn’t allowed for restaurants in phase 1


Churches are now allowed to expanded to 50% capacity, up from the 10-person limit before phase 1.

Though religious leaders around the region are proceeding with caution.

Accomack County churches are still being limited to 10 people because of the county’s phase 1 delay. The Richmond Catholic Diocese said Friday its directing its two churches in Accomack to delay Sunday mass until Sunday, May 30.

More guidelines for religious services here

Malls and other retail

Non-essential retail can expand to 50% of their maximum capacity starting Friday, including malls.

The Patrick Henry mall in Newport News is providing xtra hand sanitizer stations, social distancing signs and a lot less seating are some of the new changes you can expect to see when going shopping.

For more guidelines on malls and other retailers, click here.


Gyms will still be closed under phase 1, except for outdoor fitness classes. However a Virginia Beach gym owner who specializes in virtual training says he’ll continue with online classes as long as Northam’s June 10 stay-at-home order is still in effect.

For a more complete breakdown of the rules and what’s open and closed in phase 1, click here.