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Indoor dining and gyms can reopen soon in Northern Virginia

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Northern Virginia and Richmond could join the rest of the state in transitioning to Phase 2 of reopening on Friday.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Northern Virginia residents will have a little more freedom Friday to do some of the things they used to before the coronavirus’ spread.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Tuesday afternoon that Northern Virginia and Richmond would be allowed to join the rest of the Commonwealth in Phase 2 of reopening.

This latest phase eases some significant public health restrictions amid the coronavirus’ continued spread.

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"Overall, our numbers look good,” Northam said. “Most of Virginia just entered Phase 2 on Friday. Northern Virginia and the City of Richmond remain in Phase 1, but the metrics from those areas also look positive and they can move in to Phase 2 as of this Friday, the 12th of June."

Under Phase 2, restaurants and bars will be able to offer indoor dining at 50% of their occupancy. Gyms will also be allowed to open their indoor areas at 30% occupancy.

While Northam said Virginia will maintain a “Safer at Home” strategy, social gatherings will now be allowed to increase from 10 to 50 people as well.

Religious services, non-essential retail, and personal grooming services will follow the same guidelines in Phase 2 that they did under Phase 1, according to the governor’s office.

Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said he believes his community is prepared to enter Phase 2.

“We're not anywhere near out of the woods yet,” he said. “We have a long way to go on this virus, but our residents and businesses have been working to social distance, to wear masks, wash their hands, to stay home for a long period of time, and do all the things we asked them.”

When the rest of the state transitioned from Phase 0 to Phase 1, Northern Virginia counties asked Gov. Ralph Northam to delay their phased transition.

While Northern Virginia is once again transitioning to a new phase later than the rest of the state, both Wilson and a spokesperson for Loudoun County said they are not aware of any plans from local jurisdictions to request another delay.

Loudoun County's spokesperson added that while local businesses can choose to stay closed, the governor's order effectively allows any business in the region to reopen as they may please, as long as they follow Northam's guidelines.

“I've been in very, very close contact with my counterparts and all the other Northern Virginia jurisdictions,” he said. “We talk constantly [and] in some cases multiple times a day.”

The Celtic House Irish Pub & Restaurant off Columbia Pike in Arlington recently opened its patio to customers, according to co-owner Michael McMahon.

RELATED: Virginia coronavirus updates: Northern Virginia can enter Phase 2 starting this Friday

He said his restaurant is looking forward to being able to serve customers inside. 

“There's a lot of people that will come on a regular basis here,” he said. “So, by opening inside, I think a lot more people will be more comfortable.”

He said the move will also provide his business a lot more leeway on rainy days when it is impossible to seat customers outside.

McMahon said he believes his business is prepared to welcome in customers Friday.

“We are doing inside just the same as outside,” he said. “So, we sanitize and then make sure that we clean the tables with bleach and use Lysol as well with the chairs.”

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