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Bar seating still closed as Virginia enters Phase Three

RICHMOND

Though Virginia officially entered Phase Three of Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plan on July 1, bar seating will remain prohibited in restaurants across the commonwealth.

According to a press release the governor’s office issued on June 30, this restriction is intended to reduce the likelihood of patrons gathering in bar areas without observing social distancing guidelines. As such, bar seating and congregating areas of restaurants must remain closed except for those passing through. Restaurants may still use non-bar seating in bar areas as long as a minimum of six feet between tables is provided.

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. “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.”

Virginia is currently averaging more than 10,400 tests per day — exceeding Northam’s goal — and hospitals continue to report ample supplies of personal protective equipment. The percentage of positive tests has dropped to 6% from a high of 20% in mid-April. The number of Virginians hospitalized with a positive or pending COVID-19 test has declined significantly over the past several weeks, and more than 1,200 contact tracers are presently working throughout the Commonwealth.

Despite these positive trends, the Northam administration assured the public on Tuesday that it is monitoring increases in several states, and is continuing its efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia. Northam also reminded Virginians that they are safer at home, especially if they are high-risk or vulnerable, and must continue to comply with the statewide face covering requirement in indoor public spaces.

Virginians are also strongly encouraged to continue teleworking if possible, wash hands regularly, maintain six feet of physical distance when outside of home and get tested immediately if they have COVID-19 symptoms.