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McKay Joins Local Officials’ Calls to Delay Reopening Northern Virginia

Following more details to reopen Virginia later this week, Fairfax County’s chairman joined Northern Virginia leaders in saying that the region is not ready yet to ease restrictions.

On Sunday (May 10), McKay, along with the top officials for the City of Alexandria and Loudoun, Prince William and Arlington counties, said in a letter to the governor saying that regional threshold metrics should be used instead of statewide metrics for reopening the five localities.

“While it is certainly useful to examine statewide metrics as we gauge the success of current public health policies, we feel strongly that any changes to current policies be guided by what is occurring in our region,” the letter said.

The health directors for the five localities also sent a letter to the state health commissioner. “Based on our assessment, we do not believe that the Northern Virginia region has met the criteria for moving into Phase 1 at this time,” the letter said.

Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Friday that his plans to begin the first phase on Friday (May 15) as part of “Forward Virginia” include these new restrictions:

  • Restaurants with open air space will be allowed to seat guests outdoors but at 50% capacity while other in-door only restaurants will be only be allowed to offer takeout and delivery.
  • Residents will be under a “safer at home” suggestion.
  • Retail businesses will be able to open at a 50% capacity.
  • Fitness centers must remain closed unless they offer outdoor facilities.
  • Entertainment and amusement centers will still be closed.
  • Churches and places of worship will be allowed to gather at 50% capacity.
  • Private campgrounds and specific public camping facilities will be reopened.
  • A 10-person gathering limit for private parties will be still be required.

If the number of COVID-19 cases rise with the new orders, Northam said that there is a chance tighter restrictions will once again go into place.

“The virus is still in our communities and we need to continue our vigilance,” he said. “We may be living with it for months or maybe years.

Northam stressed that his proposed plan is an easement of the temporary restrictions: “We are not opening the flood gate here.”

Prior to the governor’s announcement, McKay and other local leaders had been pushing the state’s administration to provide more collaboration with the reopening plans.

For places like Fairfax County, Northam said on Friday that they may be allowed to reopen at a slower pace and that he will announce more details early this week.

“I have said from the beginning this is a dynamic-fluid process,” he said.

Catherine Douglas Moran and Ashley Hopko contributed to this report 

Image via Virginia.gov

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