(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File) Gov. Ralph Northam
(AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

Gov. Ralph Northam announced that Virginia will not be entering Phase Three of coronavirus recovery this week. He said that the state would enter Phase Three no earlier than June 26.

Northam explained that Virginia’s health metrics continue to trend in a positive direction, but the state is not ready yet to further loosen restrictions. He said that health officials are aware of coronavirus spikes in other parts of the country as states continue to reopen. 

“We need to continue to evaluate the data but people need and they deserve to be able to plan ahead, so I want Virginians to see what Phase Three will generally look like when we do make that decision,” Northam said. “It still means you’re safer at home, especially if you’re vulnerable.”

Northam noted that even in Phase Three residents need to focus on physical distancing in all situations and everyone should continue to wear face masks outside of the home. 

Phase Three will bring some notable changes though. For example, entertainment venues like museums, zoos and other outdoor venues will be able to open up at 75% capacity. 

“The cap on capacity for non-essential retail will be lifted and so will the cap on capacity for restaurants and beverage services but physical distancing is still required,”  Northam said. “Gyms and fitness centers may open up at 75% capacity.” 

Summer camps will remain closed and recreational sports will still require physical distance.

“I also want to emphasize to every Virginian that just because something is allowed to reopen doesn’t mean that it is required. If a business doesn’t need comfortable opening or can’t meet the requirements it does not have to open,” Northam said. 

During the media briefing Northam was joined by Latino leaders from northern Virginia to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the Latino community. He explained that Latinos make up 45.3% of coronavirus cases and 35% of hospitalizations in the state, even though Hispanic and Latino people make up just about 10% of the  population in Virginia. 

“Overall, the Latino population is more likely to be uninsured than the general population. Latino people are more likely to work in jobs that put them at higher risk of contracting the virus and these risk factors are compounded within the Latino undocumented population,” Northam said. 

He noted that officials in his administration are working to increase outreach and provide translated guidance to get public information out to the community. 

There are multiple free coronavirus testing events that will be held in Latino communities, and the governor’s office will be working with the state Health Equity Working Group to make sure that officials are connecting with the community. 

“We will continue doing everything we can to make sure you get the health care access that you need, and to keep you safe. For those who are not documented but need testing or care please be assured that getting you tested and cared for is our priority,” Northam said.

“We’re not checking papers during these testing events at clinics. We just want to help you and your families to be safe and healthy.”