RICHMOND, Va. (FOX 5 DC) - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced on Tuesday that Northern Virginia is on track to join the rest of the rest of the state on Friday in phase one of the reopening process.
The counties of Northern Virginia, as well as Accomack County and the city of Richmond, had lagged behind due to consistently high COVID-19 case numbers.
According to a letter from Northern Virginia leaders to Northam, the region is seeing a decrease in case totals, has expanded its testing capacity and has seen a decline in hospitalizations.
The Governor also delivered the anticipated new guidance on face coverings on Tuesday, mandating that they will be required in all indoor spaces effective Friday.
Northam indicated that “science increasingly shows” that face coverings are an important tool in stalling the spread of COVID-19.
Enforcement will fall to Department of Health officials.
The governor says face coverings can be put aside only when patrons are eating or drinking.
Masks will also not be required for people who are exercising.
He also said anyone with a health condition that could be compromised by face coverings could refrain from wearing.
Finally, children under 10 will not be required to wear face coverings.
The governor also noted that he would have an announcement coming tomorrow regarding the Northern Virginia counties, and Accomack County, which are currently still in phase zero due to comparatively high COVID-19 case numbers.
The governor also took the opportunity to respond to critics about a weekend incident in which he caught on camera several times failing to wear a face covering in public.
Northam became a target of derision among Virginians because of the photos.
The governor noted that he’d made a mistake when he failed to wear a face covering. He said that in the future he will not make the same mistake.
“I was not prepared. And I take full responsibility for that,” he said.