Governor sets May 14 for reopening

Governor Ralph Northam said today he anticipates he will allow restaurants, barber shops, gyms and other businesses shuttered since late March to reopen next week. 

The state will issue more detailed guidance about how businesses will be allowed to open with social distancing in the next few days.

Northam set the evening of Thursday, May 14 as the target date for reopening. The date was chosen based on several trends, including the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus as a share of tests; the amount of personal protective equipment available to medical workers; and the rate of hospitalizations statewide.

Once businesses reopen, "you'll be able to get a haircut, but you'll need an appointment," Northam said. "You'll be able to go to the gym, but with fewer people." And restaurants will be expected to keep diners at more of a distance from each other than in the past.

For now, the governor's order limiting the number of people in one place to 10 is staying in place.

The governor said the phase of reopening that would start at the end of the day on May 14 will last two to four weeks or longer. He said a second phase could follow in which gatherings of up to 50 people are permitted, if conditions improve.

Northam said he does not support a regional approach to reopening in which rural areas with few confirmed cases of the virus open before more populated areas.

"If we open some areas but not others, people will travel from hotspots to other areas," he said. "We would also be picking winners and losers. I want us to open as a Commonwealth."

Note: The governor's statement says that the reopening would start on May 15, although during his presentation this afternoon, he indicated it would start at the end of May 14.

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