Northern Virginia to move into next phase of reopening

Northern Virginia to move into next phase of reopening
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Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced Tuesday that northern Virginia suburbs outside Washington, D.C., will begin the next phase of reopening as the spread of coronavirus appears to be slowing in the region.

The new guidelines, which go into effect Friday, allow the opening of restaurants for indoor dining at half capacity and allow gyms and fitness centers to reopen indoors at 30 percent capacity.

Social gatherings now have a maximum of 50 people, up from 10 people allowed under phase one. Religious gatherings can take place at 50 percent capacity. 

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Wearing face masks, social distancing and working remotely are still recommended.

"This approach protects and prioritizes the health and social, emotional and physical health of students and staff as health conditions evolve," Northam said.

The rest of Virginia began phase two on June 5, but Richmond and northern Virginia stayed on phase one because they have higher case numbers.

Northam said the coronavirus positivity rate, which is the rate of people tested who come out positive, dipped to 8.9 percent, down from a high of 30 percent at the peak of the crisis.

The state has enough hospital beds and personal protective equipment, testing capacity has increased and more contact tracers have been hired, Northam said.

As of Tuesday, Virginia has 51,738 confirmed cases of the virus and has recorded 1,496 deaths, according to the Virginia Department of Health.