Northern Virginia’s reopening falls behind the rest of the state

Victoria Mollmann, Reporter

As the rest of the state moves towards phase two of reopening due to the Covid-19 pandemic on June 5, Northern Virginia, an area that had a late peak in cases, remains with strict guidelines regarding reopening.

With 25,858 positive cases (as of June 3), Northern Virginia started testing more people, which led the percentage of new cases to trend down. In addition, there were other requirements that the cities and counties in the area had to meet, including increased hospital capacity and a consistent fourteen day decrease in cases to ensure the region was ready to enter phase one. 

When this was achieved, Governor Ralph Northam issued an executive order that allowed some restrictions to be lifted on May 29. Those included the reopening of parks, restaurants and churches with outside seating at a 50% capacity, and salons and barber shops working only by appointment, among others.

“I want to emphasize that while Phase One loosens some restrictions, it does not require any business or place of worship to reopen until they are comfortable that they can do so safely,” Northam said on May 26. “Just because you can open, doesn’t mean you have to open.”

To ensure safety, Northam also added guidelines for the use of masks inside the commonwealth, meaning that anyone over the age of ten has to wear a mask except while eating, drinking, exercising, if the person has trouble breathing, or if they have a health condition that exempts them from wearing the mask.

“I think wearing a mask in public places should be required for the safety of everyone,” said junior Sangeda Hossain, who is getting ready to return to work at a restaurant. “As long as customers [at a restaurant] are also wearing masks and doing their part no one will get infected.”

Although reopening is positive, there is still a fear that this newly acquired freedom might make the number of cases grow, since more people will cross paths with each other every day. 

“I still think it might be a bit early not only considering the number of cases that are still present especially on the east coast but because some states reopened and things got worse,” said Hossain.

For this new phase to work and for everyone to be safe, all guidelines need to be followed closely. Reopening is a step in the right direction as long as it is gradual and every person works to ensure collective safety, and maybe then life may even start to look closer to “normal” again.