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Bar seating out in Phase 3

On the eve of the state of Virginia moving into Phase 3 of its reopening plan, Gov. Ralph Northam announced that bar seating is prohibited in restaurants.

Northam stated in a press release Tuesday that he was watching what is happening in other states and taking a cautious approach, as case totals and hospitalizations reach their highest levels of the pandemic yet in other areas of the country.

“In Virginia, our hospitalization rates have fallen, our percentage of positive tests continues to trend downward, and we are conducting more than 10,000 tests each day,” Northam stated. “We want these trends to continue, but if our public health metrics begin moving in the wrong direction, I will not hesitate to take action to protect the health and safety of our communities.”

The restriction on bar seating is meant to reduce the likelihood of close congregation of patrons without observing social distancing guidelines, the press release stated.

Virginia enters Phase 3 Wednesday, July 1. The state is currently averaging more than 10,400 tests per day — exceeding Northam’s goal of 10,000 per day —and hospitals continue to report ample supplies of personal protective equipment.

The percentage of positive tests has dropped to 6 percent from a high of 20 percent in mid-April. The number of Virginians hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test has declined significantly over the past several weeks, and more than 1,200 contact tracers are presently working throughout the state.

Northam announced in June that Phase 3 would end limits on the number of people in stores, restaurants and bars. Social gatherings will be allowed to increase from 50 to 250 people.

Pools and gyms will be allowed to open to 75 percent of their capacity, and pools can allow free swim. Museums, zoos and other outdoor entertainment venues would be allowed to open at 50 percent capacity. Overnight summer camps will remain closed in Phase III, and teleworking will still be strongly encouraged.

Child care facilities will be allowed to fully reopen, and businesses offering personal grooming can open with physical distancing and don’t have to solely operate on an appointment-only basis.

Also Tuesday, Northam also reminded Virginians they are safer at home, especially if they are high-risk or vulnerable. All Virginians must continue to comply with the statewide face covering requirement in indoor public spaces, and Virginians are strongly encouraged to:

  • continue teleworking if possible
  • wash hands regularly
  • maintain six feet of physical distance when outside of home
  • get tested immediately if you have COVID-19 symptoms

More information and answers to frequent questions can be found at virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia.