Northam Delays ‘Phase 1’ Reopening in N. Virginia to May 29

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 62 on Tuesday, allowing specific localities in Northern Virginia to delay entering Phase 1 of the “Forward Virginia” plan to ease restrictions on certain business operations that were put in place in response to the novel coronavirus.

While Northam issued an order Monday allowing much of the state to begin a Phase 1 opening this Friday, May 15, he signed a new order today extending the opening date to May 29 for local jurisdictions.

The governor has said that Virginia as a whole can enter Phase 1 this Friday, May 15 based on achieving certain health metrics. Today’s order allows the Northern Virginia localities to delay implementation of Phase 1 until midnight on Thursday, May 28, to allow those localities more time to meet the health metrics.

In conjunction with this executive order, Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver also issued a new order of public health emergency.

“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 Tuesday.

“The Phase 1 policies are a floor, not a ceiling. While the data show Virginia as a whole is ready to slowly and deliberately ease some restrictions, it is too soon for Northern Virginia. I support the request from leaders of localities in this region to delay implementation of Phase 1 to protect public health.”

Northam directed jurisdictions to formally request approval to delay Phase 1, and Tuesday he has officially allowed the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William as well as the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg and Vienna (Northern Virginia Region) to delay, as requested by officials in those localities.

Data show that Northern Virginia is higher than the rest of Virginia in percentage of positive tests for Covid-19, according to the governor’s office.

For example, it reports, the Northern Virginia Region has about a 25 percent positivity rate, while the rest of the Commonwealth is closer to 10 percent.

Further, in the last 24 hours, the Northern Virginia Region reported over 700 cases, while the rest of the Commonwealth reported approximately 270.

On a given day recently, 70 percent of the commonwealth’s positive cases are attributable to the Northern Virginia region.