Synopsis Of How New Guidelines To Open Up Virginia Affect Colonial Beach
By Linda Farneth
For those who don’t want to sift through pages and pages of data to figure out what is and is not allowed to open in Colonial Beach here is a quick synopsis. For those who wish to pour over the data or want more detailed information, links to all of this information are listed below.
On May 9, 2020 Governor Northam’s office issued a press release announcing “Phase One Guidelines to Slowly Ease Public Health Restrictions” but the release stated that Phase One will begin no sooner than Friday, May 15.
Furthermore the release said, “The Phase One guidelines will be implemented when the data meets the public health criteria outlined by the Commonwealth.”
Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order Sixty-One and presented a detailed framework for the first phase of the “Forward Virginia” plan. The new executive order modifies public health guidance in Executive Order Fifty-Three and Executive Order Fifty-Five and establishes guidelines for Phase One.
According to the press release, under Phase One, the Commonwealth will move to a “Safer at Home strategy”, which continues the ban on social gatherings of more than 10 people and maintains recommendations for social distancing, teleworking, and wearing face coverings. All businesses should make modifications to maintain six feet of physical distancing, increase cleaning and sanitation of high contact surfaces, and provide enhanced workplace safety measures.
Retail establishments will be allowed to operate at 50 percent occupancy, restaurant and beverage establishments may offer outdoor dining at 50 percent occupancy, personal grooming services may begin operating with one patron per service provider, and fitness centers may offer outdoor exercise services. Campgrounds may also begin taking reservations for short-term stays.
Places of worship have had a 10-person limit and have been allowed to hold drive-in services. In Phase One, drive-in services may continue, and services may be held inside at 50 percent capacity. Specific guidelines for religious services can be found here.
Many of the restrictions put in place by Executive Order Fifty-Three will remain in place in Phase One. Entertainment and public amusement venues will remain closed and beaches will continue to be open only for exercise and fishing.
Note: Since Executive Orders 53 and 55 were implemented by the Governor, Mayor Eddie Blunt took action to restrict access to all beaches, parks and public properties during this time.
Cones have been moved back to the sidewalks along public beaches and the public boat ramp has been reopened. Currently parks and many public parking lots remain closed off with police tape and cones. The parks and playgrounds still have “Closed” signs installed.
On May 13 Mayor Eddie Blunt issued the following statement concerning phase one.
This is an important message from Mayor Blunt
As you know we continue to deal with the very serious issue of Covid 19, also known as the Corona Virus.
We are now entering into Phase one of the Governors reopening plan “Safer at Home.”
As part of this Safer at Home plan, food and beverage establishments will be able to re-open at 50% capacity in their outdoor areas only. There are numerous rules governing these establishments, and each establishment is responsible for obtaining these rules, and educating staff. We will have the “Moving Virginia Forward“ information available on our website.
Certain non-essential businesses will be able to open under the guidelines found in the “Moving Virginia Forward” Plan as well.
Policing of this plan needs to occur at the businesses level. Town and other policing agencies will be patrolling our Town to conduct basic law enforcement requirements, and to engage and encourage our community and businesses to perform the requirements of the Phase one return and Moving Virginia Forward process.
Our beaches will remain closed until Monday May 18th and will only be open on weekdays until further notice. Opening on weekdays may require a set hourly schedule, this will be determined later.
Other than members of our community and visitors, our beaches are our biggest asset. Unfortunately, during this crisis, they are also our biggest liability. This will remain a fluid situation as the areas surrounding us including Northern Virginia and Richmond contend with growing numbers of Covid19 cases.
Our playgrounds will remain closed until we can determine if basketball and tennis courts, as well as playground equipment can be sanitized efficiently to open them on a continual basis. The Town Pier is closed for repairs and may open when the repairs are completed.
I can’t emphasize enough, that it is your responsibility to protect yourself and your loved ones. If you are sick, vulnerable to disease or afraid to venture out, stay home. Wearing a face covering is only a recommendation, and is not a requirement except for certain businesses.
The Town offices will remain closed to the public, trash pickup will continue. Bills can be paid online, or by regular mail, and a new drop box has been installed at Town Hall. You can also wait until our offices re-open, and you will not be charged a late penalty.
On behalf of your Town Council, Town Staff and all Town employees we thank you for your diligence and help, during this very difficult time.
The Governor’s press release continues;
Childcare centers remain open for children of working families. Overnight summer camps will remain closed in Phase One.
On May 12 Governor Northam’s office sent out a press release stating that through what is named Executive Order Sixty-Two Northam is allowing specific localities in Northern VA to delay moving to phase one. These localities specifically requested to be allowed to remain in phase zero rather than move ahead to opening due to their percentages of positive cases and hospitalizations due to Covid 19.
Colonial Beach and Westmoreland County were NOT one of the localities that requested to delay moving to phase one.
According to the release, “Governor Northam has said that Virginia as a whole may enter Phase One on Friday, May 15, as outlined in Executive Order Sixty-One, based on achieving certain health metrics. Executive Order Sixty-Two allows the Northern Virginia localities to delay implementation of Phase One until midnight on Thursday, May 28, to allow those localities more time to meet the health metrics.
In conjunction with this executive order, Governor Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA also issued Order of Public Health Emergency Number Four.
Excerpt from E.O. 62
On May 9, 2020, local officials from the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William, and the Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park, as well as the Towns of Dumfries, Herndon, Leesburg, and Vienna (Northern Virginia Region) requested to remain in Phase Zero. Data provided in connection with that request reveals that with respect to hospitalizations, percent positivity, and case numbers, the Northern Virginia Region faces unique challenges when compared to the rest of the Commonwealth.
Governor Northam had directed those jurisdictions to formally request approval to remain in Phase Zero. Officials in Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William; the cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, and Manassas Park; and the towns of Dumfries, Herndon, and Vienna (Northern Virginia Region) requested to remain in Phase Zero. The city of Manassas and the town of Leesburg are included in the delayed implementation as well.
The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Two and Order of Public Health Emergency Number Four can be found here.
View the graphs and slides from the Governor’s presentation here.
The full text of Executive Order Sixty-One and Order of Public Health Emergency Three is available here.