Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced last night that bar seating would still be prohibited in the state as it moves into the third phase of its reopening plan in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Starting today, restaurants are allowed to operate at full capacity inside and outside, but eating and drinking establishments are still required to implement six feet of distance between tables. No standing or congregating at the bar is allowed, but tables located in bar areas may accept customers.
Northam said Tuesday he was “watching what is happening in other states” while making his decision. On the same day, Delaware Gov. John Carney moved to close beach bars in popular getaway spots for District residents such as Rehoboth, Dewey, and Lewes. Delaware’s beach towns have seen a spike in coronavirus cases while crowds have flocked to oceanfront areas.
Earlier Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top national authority on infectious diseases, discouraged the public from visiting bars where drinking can lead to lowered inhibitions, slipping standards of safety procedures, and gathering in tight spaces. “Bars: really not good, really not good,” Fauci said. “Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news. We really have got to stop that.”
Starting today in Virginia, barbershops, salons, retail stores, and childcare centers can fully open. Gyms and swimming pools can welcome customers at 75 percent capacity.
Virginia continues to take a more aggressive approach to reopening than its neighboring jurisdictions in D.C. and Maryland. The latter areas are both in their second phase of reopening, allowing indoor seating at 50 percent capacity. Virginia reported a statewide total of 62,787 COVID-19 cases Tuesday, with 598 new cases reported since Monday.