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Richmond begins 'slow and steady' reopen

Posted at 1:51 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 18:36:55-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Richmond will move into Phase One of reopening Friday, two weeks after surrounding counties entered the same phase.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney said the city used that extra time to “expand COVID-19 testing, implement a contact tracing effort, ensured every COVID-19 positive Richmonder will be able to isolate safely and securely with supported isolation, and advocate for a statewide mask requirement.”

“When I look at the picture in totality, given the added tools at our disposal, the current trends in our local data and my faith in Richmonders to look out for one another, I believe that Richmond can cautiously move into Phase One on Friday, May 29,” Mayor Stoney said at a Thursday’s press conference.

So what does that mean for Richmond?

Starting Friday, Richmond restaurants with patios can open those up to 50-percent capacity.

Salons and barbers can also open up for appointment-only visits.

Churches can resume indoor service at 50-percent capacity.

Gyms must remain closed, but can hold outdoor classes.

Concert halls, movie theaters, and other entertainment venues remain closed.

The mayor warned that even though Richmond is beginning its Phase One reopening, the city is not out of the woods and the COVID-19 virus remains in the community.

To that end, the mayor recommended the following:

All residents who are medically able to should wear a face-covering that covers the mouth and nose when in public spaces. The wearing of a face covering does not negate the need for 6-foot social distancing.

Faith communities should continue to meet virtually if possible. If in-person meetings are absolutely necessary, the mayor strongly recommends faith groups meet outside while practicing strict social distancing and enforcing the face-covering requirement.

Food and drink establishments that choose to offer outdoor service at half capacity are asked to request a name and contact information of patrons who dine in for contact tracing purposes. This practice is voluntary for both patrons and restaurants. However, collecting this small amount of information for each dine-in party will go far in assisting the Richmond City Health District in tracing and containing outbreaks.

“Quite frankly, we’re going to need more support from the state for our residents and our businesses to reopen safely and sustainably,” the mayor noted in his appeal for more face masks and hand sanitizer. “I make these recommendations and requests of the state because, as has been my mantra this entire pandemic. Reopening should be slow and steady.”

Richmond restaurant owner John Taxin is ready to reopen his restaurant.

"The fact of the matter is, every restaurant, that is not a chain is going to be out of business, if we don't start doing business," the owner of Bookbinder's said. "If we don't start doing business, we're not going to survive and nobody else is going to survive. The vendors aren't going to survive and the producers are not going to survive. So as much as I want to play it safe as possible. We have to do business or the government has to come up with something where nobody has to pay anything till we get reopened."

This is a developing story.

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