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Entering into Phase III

After only a few weeks in Phase II, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that Virginia is ready to move to Phase III on July 1.

With three and a half weeks of gathering data from Phase II, Northam feels Virginia is ready for a safe transition, he said during a Tuesday press conference. He added that he anticipates the entire state to move forward at the same time, even though some localities in Northern Virginia, the Richmond area and the Eastern Shore had deliberately stayed behind in prior phases.

Recent data shows that there is a decline of those hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test, a metric that has been trending downward for weeks. Hospitals have not reached full bed capacity.

The percent of positive tests has also been trending downward and is now at 6.4 percent.

“With all of this data, we are comfortable moving into Phase III next week,” Northam said.

In Phase III, the maximum number of people in a gathering will change from 50 to 250.

Capacity restrictions will lift for places like non-essential retail, restaurants and beverage services. These places will now be open to full capacity as long as proper distancing is still practiced.

Entertainment venues, such as museums, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens and other outdoor venues, can now open at 50-percent capacity with a maximum of 1,000 people.

Fitness and exercise facilities and swimming pools will be able to move from 30 to 75 percent capacity. Recreational sports are still allowed with physical distancing.

Salons will no longer be appointment only and will be open with proper distancing.

Childcare, state parks, private campgrounds and beaches remain open, but overnight summer camps remain closed.

“I want to reiterate that everyone should continue to take this pandemic very seriously,” Northam said. “Cases are on the rise in other states, and I don’t want to see that happen in our commonwealth.”

Despite more open places, Northam still stressed that Virginians are still safer at home and teleworking. Face coverings and social distancing are still required at all public facilities.

“The reason we can move forward is because, Virginians, you have followed the guideline social distancing, handwashing and use of facial protection, and we encourage you to continue doing that,” said Northam.