Loudoun and the rest of Northern Virginia will enter the second phase of Governor Ralph Northam’s reopening plans on Friday, he confirmed at a press conference Tuesday.
That will mean another loosening of physical distancing and stay-at-home guidelines from the state as doctors and public health workers continue working to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
While vulnerable populations in particular are still encourage to stay at home, the cap on social gatherings will be lifted from 10 people to 50, and restaurants can begin letting guests inside again. Face coverings are still required in indoor public spaces.
In the current first phase of reopening, customers are restaurants, wineries and breweries are only allowed outside, and only allowed with six feet of separation and at half the normal capacity.
Starting Friday, those businesses can let customers inside at up to half their normal capacity, with a minimum of six feet of distancing between parties. Congregating areas such as bar seating must be closed, as must game areas, dance floors and playgrounds. Reusable menus are not permitted; instead restaurants must give customers single-use menus and dispose of them afterward. And signs at restaurant entrances will be required stating that no one with a fever or symptoms of COVID-19, or known exposure to a COVID-19 case in the prior 14 days, is permitted inside.
Other businesses, such as retail shops and hair salons, must meet similar guidelines for interior occupancy and social distancing.
Gyms and exercise facilities, too, will reopen for the first time in months, although at even lower capacities. Gyms can bring in no more than 30 percent of their normal occupancy load, with a minimum of ten feet of separation.
Pools may reopen. Hot tubs, spas, saunas, splash pads, spray pools, and interactive play features must be closed. Indoor and outdoor swimming pools are open for lap swimming, diving, exercise, and instruction only.
Northern Virginia lags behind most of the state, which entered the second phase of reopening on June 5. The limited first phase of reopening had some business weighing whether it was worth it to reopen or they should just stay closed.