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‘If it gets too bad, maybe we’ll have to pause’: Virginia officials, businesses prepare for Phase 3

ROANOKE, Va. – Business owners are prepared for Phase Three of Virginia’s reopening plan, which starts on Wednesday.

With this change comes loosened restrictions on capacity and allows certain places to reopen their doors for the first time in months. However, it also comes as the Roanoke Valley sees its largest positive case spike in weeks.

As of Tuesday, Virginia reported nearly 600 new cases. Of those positive cases, 17% are from three local communities -- Roanoke city, and Roanoke and Botetourt counties. Those three areas have a total of 102 new cases and more than 800 altogether.

Phase 3 goes into effect July 1. On Wednesday, the commonwealth’s economy will make its closest move to normal since the start of COVID-19.

“I have my concerns as I’ve stated that publicly,” said Roanoke Mayor Sherman Lea when questioned on whether he believes the area is ready for the next phase.

In some states, reopening too soon has forced them to halt their progression.

“We are doing our grand reopening,” said Mason Drew with Firehouse Skate ‘N Play in Vinton. “We are allowing our guests and skaters and the public to come back and visit us following the guidelines set by the health department.”

The skating rink will now have more hand sanitizing stations, cut down skate sessions to allow for mid-day deep cleaning and more.

Mac & Bob’s restaurant in Salem has been fortunate, according to its owners. Outside dining and to-go orders have kept them in business.

Co-owner Bob Rotanz said bartenders were initially excited to see patrons at the bar again, however Gov. Northam announced Tuesday night that bar seating will now remain closed during Phase 3.

Gyms are introducing new additions as well. The Kirk Family YMCA in downtown Roanoke will allow individual lap swimming this week and more.

Mayor Lea said if things get worse in terms of the number of cases, he will consider pausing or scaling back reopening guidelines.

“At some point, if it gets too bad, maybe we’ll have to pause,” said Mayor Lea.

For a complete breakdown of Phase 3 allowances, click here.


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