Virginia phase 1 reopening: Here's how it affects you and the businesses you use

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on Wednesday announced that most of the state will enter the much-anticipated phase 1 of its recovery plan today at noon after weeks of restrictions put in place to stall the spread of COVID-19.

The governor has made an exception for Northern Virginia jurisdictions – including Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William and Arlington counties; as well as the cities of Alexandria and Falls Church.

On Thursday, he also granted an exemption the city of Richmond, and to Accomack County.

More than half of the COVID-19 cases in the state are concentrated in the densely populated Northern Virginia region.
Those jurisdictions will remain in “phase 0,” with strict guidelines in place.

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The governor told FOX 5 this week, that the Northern Virginia jurisdictions and state leadership will work in concert to determine a reopening date.

READ MORE: Gov Northam says when northern Virginia counties reopen they will do so collectively

You can read the governor’s amendment to the phase 1 reopening that pertains to Northern Virginia here, and also the general order for reopening here.

For the rest of the state, the new guidelines for Virginia go into effect at noon.

Restaurants, bars, and wineries

Restaurants, bars, wineries and other such establishments may reopen at 50 percent capacity. 

Moreover, no more than 10 people can be seated together and tables that dining parties are eating at must be at least six feet apart. 

READ MORE: Virginia Gov confirms Friday phase 1 reopening for most of state, Northern Virginia delayed for 2 weeks

Diners are also forbidden from serving themselves, except for drinks. Buffets must be staffed by servers.

Bar seating and other areas that customers might congregate in must be closed off.

Employees who interact with customers must wear face coverings.

Every surface in the restaurant must be cleaned and disinfected every hour; while tabletops, chairs and bill folders must be disinfected after use by each patron.

Farmers markets

- On-site shopping is permitted, as long as social distancing is adhered to. The markets must also account for congestion.

- Employees and staffers must wear face coverings.

- Hand sanitizer and wash stations must be provided by vendors.

- Frequently used surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected periodically.

Retail stores

- Stores can reopen to the public if they maintain 50 percent capacity at all times.

- Employees who interact with customers must wear face coverings.

Fitness centers and gyms

Fitness centers and gyms can now open for outdoor activities only. Indoor activities are still barred.

Such centers must adhere to the following guidelines:

- Patrons, members, and guests must remain at least ten feet apart during all activities.

- Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools, and interactive play features must be closed.

- Outdoor swimming pools may be open for lap swimming only and must be limited to one person per lane.

- Employees working in customer-facing areas are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth at all times.

- Employers must ensure cleaning and disinfection of shared equipment after each use.

- Facilities shall prohibit the use of any equipment that cannot be thoroughly disinfected between uses (e.g., climbing rope, exercise bands, etc.)

- Businesses must supply hand sanitizer stations or hand washing stations for patrons, members, and guests.

- All group outdoor activities may not have more than 10 guests, patrons, or members.

Salons, barbershops and other grooming businesses

- Personal grooming businesses can reopen, but at 50 percent capacity. Work stations must be at least six feet apart, and customers must make appointments.

- Employees must wear face coverings.

- Businesses must provide face coverings for customers, unless they bring their own. Services are limited to those that can be conducted while still wearing a face covering.

- Frequently used surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected every 60 minutes; and grooming tools must be cleaned and disinfected after each customer.


- Campgrounds are now open, but units must remain 20 feet apart.

- Employees must wear face coverings.

- Campers are strongly encouraged to face coverings.

- Hand washing and sanitization stations must be provided for guests and employees.

Indoor shooting ranges

- Indoor shooting ranges can open but at 50 percent capacity, and people must maintain a distance of at least six feet at all times.

- Employees who interact with the public must wear face coverings.

- Frequently used surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected every 60 minutes, and equipment must be cleaned and disinfected after each use.

- Patrons are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings.

Some businesses will remain closed in Virginia during phase 1, including:

- Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers

- Racetracks and historic horse racing facilities

- Bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement.

Places of Worship

- Religious services can resume indoors, but only at 50 percent capacity

- Attendees must remain six feet apart during such services.

- Spacing must be marked.

- Attendees and clerics are strongly encouraged to wear face coverings.

- Items cannot be passed among attendees who are not family members or people who live in close quarters with one another.

- Anything used to distribute food or beverages must be disposable.

- Frequently used surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected.

- Signage must be posted warning people with COVID-19 or similar symptoms to refrain from entering the building.

- Signage must also be posted with public health warnings regarding public gatherings.