Northern Virginia should begin reopening next Friday, but dozens of residents feel that should already be happening.
For a second week in a row, close to 50 protestors lined Loudoun Street late Friday morning outside the county government building displaying signs with messages demanding that businesses in the Northern Virginia region, specifically in Loudoun, be allowed to reopen along with the rest of the Commonwealth. Gov. Ralph Northam this month allowed all of Virginia to enter phase-one reopening but mandated the Northern Virginia region remain in phase zero until at least next Friday, May 29.
The protestors’ signs featured broad messages like “We Are All Essential,” “Let My People Go,” “Lockdown Forever?” and “Socialism Distancing,” with an emphasis on the “ism.” They also painted signs with messages more specific to Loudoun and its leaders, like “Liberate Loudoun” and “Radical Randall Reopen Now”—calling on County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large) to push for a Loudoun reopening.
This is the second consecutive Friday the protestors have displayed their signs in the same location. Attendees did not appear to be using face coverings or practicing social distancing.
Northam on May 8 issued Executive Order 61, which allowed businesses across Virginia to enter a phase-one reopening beginning May 15. A day later, leaders from Loudoun, Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, and Prince William counties wrote to the state health commissioner to say that the state’s most densely populated region was not yet ready to move into phase one.
In Loudoun, Randall said she conducted a straw poll of supervisors by email, with six of nine supervisors concurring to send the letter.
On May 12, Northam issued Executive Order 62, which allowed the Northern Virginia region to remain in phase zero. After confusion ensued over whether Loudoun was included in that exception, since it was not specifically listed, the governor amended the order to read “all towns and political subdivisions contained therein,” and additionally included the City of Richmond and Accomack County.
Northam on Friday said the state was in “frequent communication with officials in those localities and will have more information to share next week, but to be clear, the floor that we established will not change.”