Phase One, state officials said Friday, will still involve keeping some businesses closed, while others reopen under “strict safety restrictions.”
Phase One will also involve “continued social distancing, continued teleworking [and] face coverings recommended in public,” according to an outline of the plan made public Friday.
How long that phase will last is unclear, but State Health Commissioner Norman Oliver said he expected it to be in effect until “medical countermeasures” like a treatment or vaccine are rolled out broadly.
“I, personally, think Phase One will be a two-year affair,” Oliver said. “There are a lot of people working on this, and I hope they prove me wrong, but I don’t see it happening in less than two years.”
Northam said on Friday that building out the details of Phase One will involve state health officials, local government officials, representatives of the business community and faith leaders. On Friday, Northam announced a business taskforce made up of business owners and leaders that will help guide plans for reopening businesses under the pandemic.
Northam said the plans will include overarching rules for all businesses, and specific guidance for different industries, like restaurants and barbershops.
Moving towards recovering, Virginia officials said, will also include boosting COVID-19 testing in the state, as well as contact tracing — the identification of anyone who has come into contact with a positive COVID-19 case.