HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- As most of Virginia readies to enter the second phase of Virginia's reopening Friday, many restaurants, gyms and other businesses are gearing up to welcome customers into their establishments for the first time since March.
"We've been open throughout this entire thing actually, just doing to-go [and] actually doing pretty well," Banesa Martinez, with the family-owned Jalapenos Mexican Grill on Cary Street, said.
While Phase Two begins across most of the Commonwealth, the City of Richmond and northern Virginia will remain in Phase One since those localities just entered the first phase last Friday.
Martinez believes remaining in Phase One for now is not a bad thing.
"We kinda do feel like we still need a bit more time, if that makes more sense," Martinez said. "Like the coronavirus is still... going on, people are still sick."
While to-go orders have sustained Jalapenos, other restaurants on Cary Street, like the iconic Galaxy Diner, need customers to sit down to help their bottom line.
"The carry out has been helping us, but definitely to be able to keep the business going, we need to have people inside and that will definitely be more income for us to keep us afloat," Nate Shoemaker with Galaxy Diner said.
Phase Two also allows many businesses to open at 50% of capacity. Gyms and fitness centers can reopen at 30% capacity.
Additionally , Phase Two allows people to return to their house of worship, though also at half capacity.
"I am looking forward to having people gather back in worship, in person," Phillip Martin, the pastor at Epiphany Lutheran Church in Henrico County, said.
But Martin said that will not happen this Sunday even though the second phase allows it.
"I'm also cautious and I want to make sure that we do this the right way, so that people feel safe coming back," Martin said. "And that we have minimized the risk of passing this disease as much as possible, as much as we can."
More about Phase Two
“Phase Two will include more flexibility for restaurants, gyms, sports, outdoor entertainment venues, and gatherings of up to 50 people. It means restaurants can have indoor seating again at 50% of their capacity. It means gyms and fitness centers can have indoor classes and workouts at 30% of their capacity and pools can open with some restrictions,” Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday. “It means some of our entertainment venues like museums, and zoos, botanical gardens and outdoor venues can reopen. Again with some restrictions. It means recreational sports are allowed with physical distancing requirements and no shared equipment. And it means swimming pools can be open to exercise and swim instruction.”
The governor released these social distancing guidelines for businesses under Phase Two:
- Establish policies and practices for physical distancing between co-workers and between members of the public.
- Provide clear communication and signage for physical distancing in areas where individuals may congregate, especially at entrances, in seating areas, and in check-out lines.
- Limit the occupancy of physical spaces to ensure that adequate physical distancing may be maintained.
- Encourage telework whenever possible.
- For those businesses where telework is not feasible, temporarily move or stagger workstations to ensure six feet of separation between co-workers and between members of the public.
- Limit in-person work-related gatherings, including conferences, trade shows, and trainings.
- When in-person meetings need to occur, keep meetings as short as possible, limit the number of employees in attendance, and use physical distancing practices.
The transition from Phase One to Phase Two was made possible by the positive trend of key COVID-19 numbers, the governor said.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.