Churches and other houses of worship will be allowed to resume indoor services at 50 percent of normal capacity under a phase one reopening plan introduced today by Governor Ralph Northam. The plan will be effective on May 15.
He emphasized that the restriction on gatherings to no more than 10 people remains in place for now.
"We encourage everyone to wear face coverings when they are out and about," Northam said.
Restaurant dining rooms must remained closed for phase one, which the governor said would last for at least two weeks beginning on May 15. But they will be able to serve people in outdoor settings at half their normal capacity. Many Louisa County restaurants have continued to serve the public during the pandemic with takeout and delivery service.
"We have had tremendous discussion with restaurant owners and that is what we think will keep them and their employees as safe as possible," Northam said.
He said socially distant indoor dining may be allowed in phase two.
Barber shops and beauty salons, which have been closed completely since late March, will be allowed to open by appointment as long as face masks are worn and strict social distancing is observed.
The governor said the limited reopening was justified based on statistics that show that statewide, the share of confirmed coronavirus cases as a share of tests has stabilized. The seven-day average is now at about 15 percent positive cases. Testing has increased to about 8,000 cases per day, close to the goal Northam set of 10,000 tests per day.
Besides hair salons, another area of business that has been shut down completely is campgrounds. They will be allowed to reopen to visitors on May 15 with social distancing between campsites.
Fitness-related businesses must remain closed in phase one, but they can offer some outdoor classes.
Non-essential retail businesses such as clothing stores will be permitted to reopen at 50 percent of capacity.
Last updated at 2:48 p.m.