Governor Northam announced the third phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan on June 18. As of right now, Virginia is still in Phase Two of the Forward Virginia plan which allowed for restaurants to offer indoor seating at 50% of their capacity, and allowed social gatherings to expand to a maximum of 50 people.
Phase three—which does not have a target date at this time—will allow for the maximum number of people at a social gathering to increase again, to 250 people. Restaurants will be allowed to operate at 75% seating capacity, and entertainment businesses will be allowed to reopen with a 50% seating capacity, not to exceed 1,000 people.
Good news for the summer: swimming pools may also expand operations to free swim in addition to indoor and outdoor exercise, diving, and swim instruction.
The ‘Safer at Home’ initiative will continue, meaning that telework and other remote options are still highly encouraged where possible. Restaurants and other opening businesses will still be required to stick to a strict cleaning regime at this time.
Individuals with symptoms of COVID including fever and coughing will still be encouraged to self-isolate. Social distancing practices will still be highly encouraged, as well as continuing to wear masks while out in public.
Restaurants must keep signage signifying the 6 feet of social distance in their establishments. They must also post signage at the entrance that states anyone that, “no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted in the establishment.” Live musicians will be allowed again, but must remain 6 feet away from patrons. Employees of restaurants and food service venues must also wear face coverings at all times.
Farmers markets will be allowed to open once Phase Three has been enacted. As with other food venues, they must have signage and social distancing markers to make sure that everything is as safe as possible and adheres to the current CDC guidelines. Employees for farmers markets must also similarly wear a face covering. Sanitation options must also be provided at farmers markets.
Recreational sports will also see a comeback with Phase Three of the ‘Forward Virginia’ plan. As with entertainment businesses, they will not be allowed to exceed 50% occupancy. Additionally, coaches and players must be screened daily for COVID-19 symptoms.
More Phase Three guidelines can be found on the Virginia Governor’s website at governor.virginia.gov. As a reminder, there still is not a target date for the entrance of Phase Three.