Bar Seating Will Remain Closed In Virginia's Phase Three

Emily Leayman

VIRGINIA — As Virginia moves into phase three of the Forward Virginia reopening plan Wednesday, bar seating won't be part of what is allowed as coronavirus restrictions ease. Gov. Ralph Northam said bar seating and gathering areas of restaurants will remain closed except for thru traffic.

The decision comes as some states see increases in coronavirus cases. Northam believes closing these areas will reduce the possibility of customers gathering without social distancing. Virginia's revised guidelines for bar areas are reflected in the executive order Northam issued for phase three.

"I am watching what is happening in other states — we are taking a cautious approach as we enter Phase Three and maintaining the current restrictions on bar areas," Northam said Tuesday. "In Virginia, our hospitalization rates have fallen, our percentage of positive tests continues to trend downward, and we are conducting more than 10,000 tests each day. We want these trends to continue, but if our public health metrics begin moving in the wrong direction, I will not hesitate to take action to protect the health and safety of our communities."

When phase three begins, social gathering limits will increase from 50 to 250 people and the face mask requirement at certain places will continue. Capacity limits will end for restaurants, nonessential businesses, personal care businesses and places of worship, although physical distancing requirements continue. Fitness and exercise facilities as well as pools can operate at 75 percent capacity with ten feet of physical distancing. Entertainment and public amusement businesses can open, provided that they operate at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people.

Overnight portions of summer camps must remain closed. Indoor and outdoor recreational sports activities are allowed with ten feet of physical distancing when possible. Attendees are limited to 50 percent capacity, or 250 people.

More information on phase three is available at www.virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia.

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This article originally appeared on the Greater Alexandria Patch