If Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam listens to his advisers, the first phase of his state’s coronavirus recovery could take two years.
“We cannot and will not lift restrictions like one turns on a light switch,” Northam said, acknowledging that under Phase One, some businesses would have to remain closed. “Easing too much too soon could jeopardize public health and consumer confidence.” (RELATED: ‘Governor Klan Robes Blackface’: Tucker Carlson Hits Governor Ralph Northam With New Nickname)
But Northam’s state health commissioner, Norman Oliver, said that Phase One restrictions would likely be in effect until an effective treatment or a vaccine were widely available.
The health director for Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) says that phase one of reopening could take at least two years.
— Ellen Carmichael (@ellencarmichael) April 25, 2020
“I, personally, think Phase One will be a two year affair. 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,” Oliver explained.
In addition to forcing some businesses to remain closed, Phase One would also impose continued restrictions on the general public. Face coverings would still be recommended in public places and employers would be encouraged to continue to allow those workers who could do so to work remotely.
The Virginia Health Department clarified Oliver’s statements Saturday, saying that the vaccine development was likely to take 18 months or longer, but that Phase One could be much shorter depending on the response to an incremental reopening of the economy.
“In the meantime we can safely ease restrictions in a phased approach,” a VDH told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “Although we have no expectation that Phase One of this approach will last two years, some level of social distancing will have to continue until we have a treatment or a vaccine for the disease.”