Gov. Northam delays implementation of Phase One reopening for northern Virginia localities

Coronavirus

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam gestures duding a news conference at the Capitol Monday May 4, 2020, in Richmond, Va. Northam announced a phase one opening of the state beginning May 15.(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — After announcing during Monday’s coronavirus briefing that northern Virginia would open more slowly than the rest of the Commonwealth, Gov. Ralph Northam issued Executive Order 62 on Tuesday, which allows certain localities in northern Virginia to delay entering Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” plan to ease coronavirus restrictions on certain business operations.

The governor has said Virginia as a whole may enter Phase One on Friday, May 15 — which is outlined in Executive Order 61 — based on achieving certain health metrics. However, according to a news release from Northam’s office on Tuesday, May 12, Executive Order 62 permits northern Virginia localities to delay implementing Phase One until midnight on Thursday, May 28, thus giving those localities more time to meet the health metrics.

Alongside Executive Order 61, Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver also issued Order of Public Health Emergency Number Four.

“As I have said, it’s important that the Commonwealth as a whole can meet key health metrics before moving into Phase One,” said Northam. “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.”

Tuesday’s statement says Executive Order 62 allows the following localities to remain in Phase Zero, as formally requested by officials in those localities:

  • Arlington County
  • Fairfax County
  • Loudoun County
  • Prince William County
  • City of Alexandria
  • City of Fairfax
  • City of Falls Church
  • City of Manassas
  • City of Manassas Park
  • Town of Dumfries
  • Town of Herndon
  • Town of Leesburg
  • Town of Vienna (northern Virginia region)

According to officials, data show that northern Virginia has a substantially higher percentage of positive tests for COVID-19 than the rest of the Commonwealth.

For example, the Northern Virginia Region has about 25 percent positivity rate, while the rest of the Commonwealth is closer to 10 percent. In addition, since Monday, May 11 the Northern Virginia Region reported over 700 cases, while the rest of the Commonwealth reported approximately 270, the news release states. Furthermore, 70 percent of Virginia’s positive cases on any given day are attributable to the Northern Virginia Region, officials say.

The full text of Executive Order 62 and Order of Public Health Emergency Number Four can be found here.

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