RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Governor Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that bar seating inside restaurants will be prohibited under the third phase of Virginia’s reopening plan, a surprising turn that comes a day before the state enters Phase 3.
The governor made the decision, his office said in a release, to reduce the likelihood of people gathering around bar areas without following social distancing guidelines.
“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 a statement.
Restaurants can still use seating in bar areas if a minimum space of six feet is between each table.
“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,” Northam continued.
Eric Terry, the president of the Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association, told 8News that the association is “disappointed in this last minute change.”
“Our restaurants have spent significant resources to hire staff, buy supplies of beverages and PPE,” Terry explained.
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