Phase 1- Safer at Home

Governor Ralph Northam’s guidelines for reopening Virginia is a three-phase plan.  Phase 1, “safer at home” is set to be implemented on May 15, 2020.  Phase 1 will last at least 2 weeks.  On May 13, 2020, Governor Northam announced that Virginia will move into Phase One of the "Forward Virginia" plan on Friday, May 15, with the exception of certain localities in Northern Virginia.  Northern Virginia will delay reopening by two weeks (May 29, 2020).

Under phase 1 of the plan, general guidelines for “safer at home” include continued social distancing, continued teleworking, and continued recommendations for face coverings in public.  Non-essential businesses like restaurants and salons can reopen with limited capacity.  Guidelines by setting are as follows:

  • Non-essential retail
    • 50% of capacity
  • Restaurants, breweries, beverage services
    • Limited to takeout and curbside (continued limitation)
    • If the business already has an outdoor seating permit - will allow service at 50% capacity outdoors.
  • Entertainment and amusement will remain closed in phase 1
  • Fitness centers
    • Outdoor classes with limitations
  • Beaches (at state parks too)
    • Only open for exercise and fishing
  • Places of Worship
    • Drive-in services may continue
    • Indoor services at 50% capacity
  • Personal Grooming
    • Appointment only, strict social distancing, face coverings required.
  • Private Campgrounds
    • May open with restrictions on camp sites
  • State Parks
    • Slowly open tent - RV - cabin
    • 10 person limit applies
  • Child Care
    • Open to all working families
  • Overnight Summer Camps
    • Closed
  • Gatherings
    • 10 person limit

Phase 1 restrictions are a floor and communities may not be ready to take these steps and will have stricter regulations.  Businesses must remain closed if they cannot meet the requirements set forth in Phase 1 guidance.  Restrictions are meant to protect workers.

Some parts of the state may keep coronavirus-related restrictions in place longer than the rest of the state.

You can view the Phase 1 slides presented by the Governor here: Forward Virginia – May 8 Update

You can view Phase 1 Business Sector Guidelines here.

You can view FAQs for Phase one here.

The timeline for Phase 1 and subsequent phases will be determined by monitoring health data. The following measures will be monitored to determine when it is safe to progress to the next phase:

  • Number of cases
  • Number of positive tests, and percent positive
  • Percent of cases hospitalized
  • Bed and ICU capacity
  • Availability of PPE

You can view data for these measures on the VDH webpage: Key Measures

You can also view the data briefing slides presented by the Governor: Data Briefing – May 4, 2020

The Governor has not released detailed guidelines for phase two. However, the Forward Virginia blueprint outlines which restrictions will be further eased in phase two. In phase two, social gatherings will be limited to 50 and additional businesses limitations will be eased. Phase two still strongly encourages social distancing, continued telework, face coverings in public, and stay-at-home for vulnerable populations.

You can view the Forward Virginia Blueprint Slides Here:

Forward Virginia Blueprint

Executive Order Sixty-Three, requiring Virginians to wear face coverings in public indoor settings to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Executive Order Fifty-One was amended, extending Virginia’s state of emergency declaration.

The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Three and Order of Public Health Emergency Five is available here.

Frequently Asked Questions related to Executive Order Sixty-Three can be found here.

The text of amended Executive Order Fifty-One is available here.

The new face covering/mask order applies to everyone 10 and over and includes:

  • All brick and mortar retail establishments
  • All personal care and grooming establishments
  • Inside any places where people congregate
  • Inside food and beverage establishments
  • On public transportation
  • When accessing state or local government services

Exceptions are provided if you are:

  • Exercising
  • While eating or drinking
  • If you have trouble breathing or are unable to remove a face covering/mask without help
  • If health conditions prohibit wearing a face covering
  • A person seeking to communicate with a hearing-impaired person, for which the mouth needs to be visible
  • Very young children - Adults accompanying minors should use the adult’s best judgment with respect to placing face coverings on a minor between the ages of two through nine.
  • When temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to secure government or medical services

Any child over the age of 2 years old is encouraged to wear a face covering to the extent possible, but it's only required for children over the age of 10.  Adults accompanying minors should use the adult’s best judgment with respect to placing face coverings on a minor between the ages of two through nine.

Face coverings help reduce the spread of the virus.  As research has continued into COVID-19, more and more health professionals have agreed that face coverings are critical to continuing daily operations around the country, by reducing the spread of the virus.  Phase One's success hinges on everyone wearing face coverings in public settings.  Face coverings do not take the place of public health guidelines to maintain six feet of physical distancing, increase cleaning and sanitation, and wash hands regularly.

VDH is not in the business of policing Virginians’ everyday activities.  The face covering/mask order is a "matter of public health" and not a criminal matter, so any enforcement of the new face covering/mask order will be done by health officials rather than law enforcement officials.  The goal is to protect people's health and not to get people in trouble for not wearing masks, The Governor directed the Department of Labor and Industry to develop emergency temporary standards to prevent workplace exposure to COVID-19.

Emotions and concerns around personal safety can be high.  When it comes to masks, lead through example by following mask guidelines.  You can’t ultimately control other people’s choices. The thing you can do is control yourself and do everything you can to protect yourself.

If you have questions or concerns about the face covering Executive Order, call 877-ASK-VDH3.  Do NOT call your local health department.  Do NOT contact law enforcement to address alleged violations.

If someone is flouting the rules, appealing to the higher authority of employees and management is an option  Shaming is never good behavior.  VDH is taking an educational approach by advising the public and businesses of the requirement to wear face coverings.

Law enforcement should only be enforcing secondary violations, such as trespassing, disorderly conduct, inciting a riot, etc.

EO 63 only covers businesses and state and local buildings; it is not enforceable outside buildings and businesses.  VDH will  only take action on willful egregious violations of the Order.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s mask recommendations can be found here.

VDH guidance for face coverings can be found here.

Page Last Reviewed: June 1, 2020