Virginia's governor expects to begin lifting coronavirus restrictions May 15

Virginia's governor expects to begin lifting coronavirus restrictions May 15
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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) said coronavirus restrictions in the state will remain in place through May 14 but that he will consider beginning to roll them back the following day.

“Everything you have done has truly made a difference — we flattened the curve [of infections] and our hospitals have not been overwhelmed,” Northam said in his daily press briefing Monday. “I am keenly aware that it has come with a tremendous cost. Now we can start to move into a new phase of our response.”

Northam on Monday announced he is extending an order closing most nonessential businesses that was set to expire May 8, saying the positive trends need another week. A separate stay-at-home order set to end June 10 will stand. On May 15, he said, businesses could reopen with enhanced safety measures in place. This would include customers needing to make appointments for haircuts and reduced capacity for restaurants, gyms and retailers.

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After about three weeks, Northam said, institutions and businesses could begin another, slightly relaxed phase of reopening.

“I am proud of Virginians for how you are handling this situation and for how you have stepped up to care for other people at this time,” Northam said.

The governor said hospitals in the state have a surplus of bed capacity and a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment, and that the rate of new infections appears to have slowed. The comments contrast with those of Virginia’s neighbors in the capital region, including Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), but Northam said the three remain in close communication.

“As you know, Maryland, Washington and specifically Northern Virginia are in very densely populated areas so we do communicate,” Northam said. “We’re probably not going to do everything on the exact day but we’re working as close as we can.”