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Forward Virginia: Phase Three

Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

The following Essential Retail Businesses may continue to remain open during normal business hours and must comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the Sector Specific Guidelines:

  • Grocery, pharmacy, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
  • Medical supply retailers;
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers;
  • Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
  • Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
  • Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;
  • Retail located within healthcare facilities;
  • Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
  • Pet and feed stores;
  • Printing and office supply stores; and
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners.

The following non-essential businesses may operate in a limited capacity and must follow the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidance for brick and mortar retail:

  • Restaurants and beverage services may operate with at least six feet of spacing between tables. Dining rooms must be closed between the hours of midnight and 5:00 am, and in-person alcohol sales must end at 10:00 pm. Delivery and takeout services are unaffected.
  • Farmers markets may operate with six feet of physical distance maintained between patrons (including between tables and persons on public sidewalks). 
  • Non-essential retail may operate with six feet of physical distance maintained between patrons.
  • Personal care and personal grooming services may operate with six feet of separation between stations and clients.
  • Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, and indoor exercise facilities may operate at up to 75% of the lowest occupancy load. Attendance at group exercise and fitness classes must be limited to the lesser of 75% of the lowest occupancy load or 25 individuals.
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools may operate at up to 75% occupancy load with at least 10 feet of physical distance between individuals not from the same household.
  • Private campgrounds may operate while limiting on-site social gatherings to less than 25.
  • Large outdoor amusement parks and zoos that are comprised of at least 25 acres of land, contain one or more permanent amusement exhibits or rides, and host at least 500,000 visitors annually, may operate with occupancy limited to 50% of the combined occupancy load on the certificates of occupancy for all areas of the venue.
  • Performing arts venues, concert venues, sports venues, movie theaters, drive-in entertainment, botanical gardens, fairs, carnivals, museums, aquariums, historic horse racing facilities, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, trampoline parks, arts and crafts facilities, escape rooms, public and private social clubs, amusement parks and zoos not covered above, and all other entertainment centers and places of public amusement may operate with occupancy limited to the lesser of 30% of the occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 250 attendees. Attendees do not include staff, players, volunteers, or performers necessary for the operation of the business. Attendees do include spectators and patrons.
  • Horse and livestock shows may operate at up to 30% occupancy load or 250 persons, with six feet of physical distance maintained between persons not from the same household. 

The full set of guidance may be found here.

All workplaces should follow the Guidelines for All Business Sectors, including the recommendations for physical distancing, enhanced cleaning and sanitization, and enhanced workplace safety. These guidelines may be found here.

The Emergency Vendor List includes vendors used by the Va. Dept. of Emergency Management (VDEM) and Va. Dept. of General Services – Division of Purchases & Supply (DPS) during a "state of public emergency".  The list may be utilized to quickly obtain supplies and services to provide assistance to those in need. This can be found here: https://dgs.virginia.gov/procurement/resources/eva-emergency-vendor-list/

All other categories of business should utilize teleworking as much as possible. Where telework is not feasible, such businesses should adhere to the Guidelines for All Business Sectors, including the recommendations for physical distancing, enhanced cleaning and sanitization, and enhanced workplace safety. These guidelines may be found here.

The following sources provide additional workplace guidance for operations that remain open:

Restaurant and Beverage Services

Restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and farmers' markets may operate both indoor and outdoor dining areas, including bar areas, as long as all parties are separated with at least six feet between tables. (The six feet cannot include the space taken up by the seated guest.) If tables are not moveable, seat parties at least six feet apart, including in the bar area. Spacing must also allow for physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e., provide physical distancing from persons on public sidewalks). Employers must provide face coverings for employees, and they must be worn in customer dining and service areas.

Bar seats and congregating areas of restaurants must be closed to patrons except for through-traffic. Non-bar seating in the bar area (i.e., tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating as long as a minimum of six feet is provided between parties at tables.

Dining rooms must be closed between the hours of midnight and 5:00 am, and in-person alcohol sales must end at 10:00 pm. Delivery and takeout services are unaffected.

The detailed set of requirements for food and beverage establishments may be found here.

Yes, self-service is permitted with continuous monitoring by trained staff required at food lines, and serving utensils must be changed hourly during peak meal times. Facilities must provide hand sanitizer at self-service food bars, and employees and patrons must use barriers (e.g., deli tissue) when touching utensils.

Yes, self-service of beverages is permitted and touchless dispensing is no longer required. As a frequently touched surface, certain elements of beverage dispensing equipment must be cleaned and disinfected every 60 minutes during operation.

No. For back-to-back booths, an alternating seating system needs to be implemented to ensure six feet of separation between individuals.

No. Shielding is not a suitable alternative to maintaining six feet of physical distance between separate parties.

No. You may not seat customers at a bar if it is directly adjacent to a workspace used to prepare beverages or other food items or to store foodservice equipment. Non-bar seating in the bar area (i.e., tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may be used for customer seating as long as a minimum of six feet is provided between parties at tables.

Yes. Reusable menus, along with tabletops and credit card/bill folders, must be disinfected between patrons.

Employee face covering, signage, and physical distancing requirements apply to this space. Table spacing must allow for six feet of physical distancing between parties and from areas outside the facility’s control (e.g., provide six feet of physical distancing from persons on public sidewalks or in an adjoining restaurants’ outdoor dining area).

The building and zoning requirements of your locality apply to any proposed change to your customer seating capacity (e.g., tented area, picnic tables).

Modified dining areas using a tent or other artificial enclosure where the tent flaps are down or where air is recirculated through an HVAC system are considered indoor spaces. In these areas, EO 63 applies and patrons must wear a face covering while not eating or drinking.

Yes, you should wear a face covering in all food or beverage establishments except while eating or drinking.

If live musicians are performing at an establishment, they must remain at least ten feet from patrons and staff. Karaoke, open mics, or other shared performance equipment must remain closed.

Brick and Mortar Retail

Non-essential retail businesses must provide adequate physical distancing of six feet between patrons and employees. Employers must provide face coverings for employees and they must be worn in customer-facing areas. The detailed set of requirements for non-essential retail may be found here.

Non-essential retail businesses are brick-and-mortar operations that consist of everything except the following:

  • Grocery, pharmacy, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
  • Medical supply retailers;
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers;
  • Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
  • Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
  • Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;
  • Retail located within healthcare facilities;
  • Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
  • Pet and feed stores;
  • Printing and office supply stores; and
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners.

All essential retail businesses must follow the Guidelines for All Business Sectors, including the recommendations for physical distancing, enhanced cleaning and sanitization, and enhanced workplace safety. Additionally, employers at essential retail businesses must provide face coverings for employees.

Personal Care and Grooming

Personal care and personal grooming businesses must limit their operations to provide at least six feet between stations or between clients. Employees, service providers, and clients must wear face coverings except when treating the areas of the nose and mouth.

The detailed set of requirements for personal care and personal grooming operations may be found here.

Employees and customers of personal care and personal grooming facilities must wear face coverings at all times. Employers and clients should consider using face coverings that are secured with ear loops.  If in the course of providing services, the tie or loop securing your clients face covering must be moved, ask that your client move the tie or loop temporarily while holding the mask in place.  Be careful that you and your clients do not touch their eyes, nose, or mouth when adjusting the tie or loop.

No. If stations are fixed and cannot be moved to maintain six feet of separation, then you will need to close enough stations to provide at least six feet of separation between work areas.

Private Campgrounds

Private campgrounds may rent lots for short- or long-term stays, and day passes are allowed. Employees working in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings. Areas of the campground covered by other sections of Phase 3 requirements must abide by those requirements. The detailed set of requirements for private campgrounds may be found here.

Exercise and Fitness

Exercise and fitness facilities may operate at up to 75% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy. Individuals must maintain 10 feet of physical distancing. 

All group exercise and fitness classes must limit participants to the lesser of 75% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 25 individuals, including instructors.

Equipment should be spaced 10 feet apart in order for patrons to maintain physical distance.  All staff should maintain at least 10 feet of separation from patrons and each other at all times. Facilities are required to perform thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all equipment between each customer, and prohibit the use of equipment that cannot be thoroughly disinfected (e.g., climbing ropes, exercise bands).

Facilities should also prohibit the use of equipment requiring more than one person to operate, unless those operating are from the same household (e.g., free weights requiring a spotter). This equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between customers. 

The full set of guidelines may be found here.

Yes. The total number of attendees (including both participants and instructors) in all group exercise and fitness classes cannot exceed 75% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 25 persons.

Employees working in customer-facing areas are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth, such as those required by CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance. Lifeguards responding to distressed swimmers are exempt from this requirement.

Patrons are encouraged to wear cloth face coverings. Face coverings may be removed while exercising as long as 10 feet of physical distancing is observed.

Patrons should be screened prior to admission to exercise and fitness centers. Screening can be conducted by asking the patron about COVID-19 symptoms, close contact with persons with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, and whether the patron has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days. See VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Patrons.

Healthcare workers using appropriate personal protective equipment during the care of a COVID-19 patient are not considered exposed to COVID-19. These healthcare workers should not be excluded from the facility based on contact with a COVID-19 patient.

Recreational Sports

Indoor and outdoor recreational sports activities, which include instruction, practice, and competitive events, may occur as long as participants and organizers comply with the following requirements:

  1. The total number of spectators cannot exceed the lesser of 30% of the occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy for the venue, if applicable, or 25 spectators per field/court; and
  2. Organizers must conduct screening of coaches, officials, staff, and players for COVID-19 symptoms prior to admission to the venue/facility.

There is no limit to the number of participants who may engage in a recreational sports activity, except that races or marathons may only have up to 250 participants, provided staggered starts separate runners into groups of 25 or less.

Participants and organizers of recreational sports are highly encouraged to consult the Virginia Department of Health’s “Considerations for Recreational Sports” webpage, which can be found here, in order to reduce the risk of exposure and spread of the virus.

Coaches, officials, and players should be screened prior to admission to recreational sports. Screening of adults can be conducted by asking about COVID-19 symptoms, whether the person has had close contact with persons with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, and whether the person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days. See VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Patrons

 

Screening of children should be conducted according to CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-childcare.html#ScreenChildren.

Healthcare workers using appropriate personal protective equipment during the care of a COVID-19 patient are not considered exposed to COVID-19. These healthcare workers should not be excluded from playing recreational sports based on contact with a COVID-19 patient.

The venue is limited to the lesser of 30% of the minimum occupancy load for the venue, if applicable, or 25 spectators per field/court. Participants are not included in this calculation.

Entertainment and Public Amusement

Large outdoor amusement parks and zoos that are comprised of at least 25 acres of land, contain one or more permanent amusement exhibits or rides, and host at least 500,000 visitors annually, may operate with occupancy limited to 50% of the combined occupancy load on the certificates of occupancy for all areas of the venue.

Performing arts venues, concert venues, sports venues, movie theaters, drive-in entertainment, botanical gardens, fairs, carnivals, museums, aquariums, historic horse racing facilities, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, trampoline parks, arts and crafts facilities, escape rooms, public and private social clubs, amusement parks and zoos not covered above, and all other entertainment centers and places of public amusement may operate with occupancy limited to the lesser of 30% of the occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 250 attendees.

For all entertainment and amusement businesses, private bookings are limited to 25 attendees, and 10 feet of distance should be maintained between persons not from the same household.

Attendees at entertainment and public amusement venues does not include staff, players, volunteers, or performers necessary for the operation of the business. Attendees do include spectators and patrons.

No. A venue can conduct their normal course of business if it is meeting its occupancy load requirements. However, if a business chooses to host a private event, the event is limited to 25 patrons as all social gatherings and events are capped at 25 patrons.

Yes, indoor entertainment venues may open during Phase 3 at 30% occupancy or no more than 250 patrons, whichever is less. All shared equipment must be cleaned and disinfected between uses. Individuals must also be spaced at least 10 feet apart, unless they are seated at tables.

Swimming Pools

Indoor and outdoor swimming pools may be open at up to 75% capacity for lap swimming, diving, recreational swimming and instruction. All patrons must observe 10 feet of physical distancing from persons not from their household. Seating may be provided on pool decks with at least 10 feet of spacing between persons who are not members of the same household. All seating must be sanitized between uses.

Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools, saunas, and interactive play features, including slides, must remain closed. Lazy rivers may operate if tubing is disinfected between uses and the facility can ensure physical distancing in the river feature. Wading pools may open, provided physical distancing can be observed.

Instructors are allowed to have physical contact with participants and guardians or parents are allowed to hold/support the child during Learn to Swim lessons.

No. There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.

When making a water rescue or assist, lifeguards are strongly encouraged to use an extension or reaching method (simple assists) for initial contact as opposed to person-to-person direct contact. These simple assists may include the use of a reaching pole, rescue tube (rescue flotation device) or a throwing device such as a ring buoy with line. Equipment extensions may be used in shallow or deep water during an in-water swimming rescue to maintain distance between the rescuer and a distressed or drowning victim. Simple assists may also be reaching assists (hand to wrist/arm) from deck, in-water or water craft followed by pulling/towing the distressed swimmer/drowning victim to safety. Additional training is required to practice these skills along with verbal cues from the rescuer.

For water emergencies where a distressed swimmer or drowning victim cannot accept or hold on to extension equipment, lifeguards should consider the safest method from their training standard of care and limit person to person contact. Appropriate and mandatory PPE (e.g., as advised by The Red Cross) should be considered for land and water emergency care.

Whenever possible, lifeguards participating in initial and in-service training sessions should use water rescue manikins, CPR mannequins, diving bricks, or other simulation equipment. Physical distancing may not be possible for some skills or when mannequins are unavailable. In all training sessions, efforts should still be in place to minimize close proximity and contact of students and instructors.

Patrons should be screened prior to admission to the pool. Screening of adults can be conducted by asking the patron about COVID-19 symptoms, close contact with persons with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, and whether the patron has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days. See VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Patrons.

Screening of children should be conducted according to CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-childcare.html#ScreenChildren

Healthcare workers using appropriate personal protective equipment during the care of a COVID-19 patient are not considered exposed to COVID-19. These healthcare workers should not be excluded from swimming pools based on contact with a COVID-19 patient.

Gatherings

A social gathering includes all public and private, in-person gatherings of more than 25 individuals who are not members of the same household. Gatherings include, but are not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, whether they occur indoors or outdoors.

For purposes of the 25-person restriction, a Social Gathering does not include:

  • Individuals performing functions related to their employment
  • Individuals assembled in an education instructional setting
  • Religious services

Social gatherings must be limited to no more than 25 participants.

A full set of best practices for social gatherings may be found here.

Religious Services

There is not a limit to the number of participants who can attend a religious service. However, if the religious service has more than 25 individuals, the service is subject to the requirements found in paragraph B(1) in Sixth Amended Executive Order 67 and Order of Public Health Emergency Seven, found here. Furthermore, any social gathering held in connection with a religious service (for example, a reception following a wedding) is not considered part of the religious service and is subject to the generally applicable ban on public and private in-person gathering above 25 individuals. 

 

Virginians are strongly encouraged to seek alternative means of attending religious services, such as virtually or via “drive-through” worship. Religious services may occur provided individuals attending religious services must be seated at least six feet apart at all times and must practice physical distancing at all times. The full set of guidelines for religious services may be found here.

Wearing a face covering is mandatory for religious services. The exemption for “religious rituals” was intended to allow for practices, including but not limited to communion, where face coverings must be removed temporarily.

Religious services such as wedding ceremonies and funeral rites with more than 25 persons may occur provided individuals attending religious services are seated at least six feet apart at all times and practicing physical distancing at all times. Any social gathering held in connection with a religious service is subject to the ban on public and private in-person gatherings of more than 25 people.

Attendees may travel to their place of worship, park in the parking lot and listen to the religious message while remaining in their vehicles. Participants must remain in their vehicle at all times, except as necessary to visit a restroom. Any interaction by the faith leaders and those in the vehicles must be strictly limited, such as using physical distancing methods when passing out palms, serving Holy Communion using sealed or self-contained elements, and priests directing congregants to place ashes or water on their own forehead as opposed to priests applying the ashes or water directly on the foreheads of the congregants. Any objects used for collecting monetary offerings shall not be passed from attendee to attendee but may be offered to attendees in a vehicle as long as the object stays in the possession of the person assisting with collection. Appropriate measures should be taken for the safety of those functioning outside of the cars. Faith communities should also adhere to any noise ordinances.

Horse and Livestock Shows

Trainers, officials, participants, and other attendees should be screened prior to admission to horse and livestock shows. Screening of adults can be conducted by asking about COVID-19 symptoms, whether the person has had close contact with persons with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, and whether the person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days. See VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Patrons.

Screening of children should be conducted according to CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-childcare.html#ScreenChildren.

Healthcare workers using appropriate personal protective equipment during the care of a COVID-19 patient are not considered exposed to COVID-19. These healthcare workers should not be excluded from venues/facilities based on contact with a COVID-19 patient.

Workplace Protections

No. Employers should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.

Employers that do not currently offer sick leave to some or all of their employees are encouraged to draft non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies. Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.

All businesses should screen employees prior to a shift. Screening can be handled by requiring employees to conduct self-checks (asking the employee to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, including measuring temperature before each work shift) before reporting to work. For more information, see VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Employees (Non-healthcare Workers).

Implementation

Sixth Amended Executive Order 67 and Order of Public Health Emergency Seven went into effect at 12:00 am on Monday, November 16th and is in effect until rescinded or amended.

Governor Northam, in consultation with State Health Commissioner Oliver, may adjust this order or issue new orders as needed, given the quickly-changing public health situation.

No, the prohibition applies to social gatherings but does not apply to a business setting. Where feasible and practicable, workplaces should require telework. For operations where telework is not feasible, we strongly recommend adhering to  the Guidelines for All Business Sectors, including the recommendations for physical distancing, enhanced cleaning and sanitization, and enhanced workplace safety. These guidelines may be found here.

Regions or localities may submit a request to the Governor for a slower implementation between phases, but no region or locality may enact fewer restrictions on businesses than the Commonwealth.

Other Categories

Hotels may continue to operate in Phase 3. Any events held at a hotel are subject to the gathering ban requirements that limit all in-person social gatherings to 25 people or fewer. Any food and beverage, pool, or fitness facility within a hotel must follow the guidelines provided for those business categories, which may be found here.

Non-essential retail may operate provided that six feet of physical distance is maintained between patrons.  Any food and beverage or personal care facility within a shopping mall must follow the guidelines provided for those business categories, which may be found here.

Auto repair and service are considered essential businesses and are not impacted. Sales and showrooms are considered non-essential and must follow the guidelines for nonessential retail businesses, which can be found here.

No. Virginia law enforcement will not require documentation from individuals that are traveling for an essential purpose.

Conferences not required by law must be limited by the host to no more than 25 people.

EO-63 (Face Covering Requirement)

All individuals ages 5 and over are required to wear face coverings indoors while in group settings, regardless of physical distancing. Mitigation strategies such as face coverings, distancing, and hand sanitation are meant to be layered.

No. "Personal residence" does not include any area, including an area in a personal residence, licensed or approved to provide child care. Children in the care of a family day home, the provider, and staff are required during the business hours of operation to follow the face covering requirement.