In Stafford County, Memorial Day weekend is highly anticipated as the kickoff to summer. With its vast recreational choices on two rivers, multiple parks and trails, swimming pools, cultural attractions, restaurants and shopping, there is something for everyone to do. This year, those choices have been narrowed due to COVID-19 and the Governor’s Phase I restrictions. These restrictions are in place to ensure a safe holiday weekend.
“I want to remind everyone that Governor Ralph Northam’s Executive Order #61, which details the Phase One easing of restrictions, still advocates that folks are ‘safer-at-home’ and should practice social distancing while in public,” said Chairman of the Stafford Board of Supervisors Meg Bohmke. “Having said that, the order eases restrictions on restaurants and other businesses, and we encourage our citizens to patronize them responsibly and safely.”
Stafford County Government
Most of Stafford County’s offices and departments will be closed over the three-day weekend. On Tuesday, the County returns to normal operating hours allowing limited public entry while following social distancing measures. All County park programming has been canceled. County park trails are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., as facilities like playgrounds, bathrooms and shelters are not open in Phase I.
It is important to note that Aquia Landing and Falmouth Beach, two popular Memorial Day destinations, are still closed. The Governor’s Order closes beaches outside of fishing or exercising, though made a singular decision to lift restrictions for Virginia Beach. Stafford’s parking areas at both beaches are also closed. Stafford is asking that no one park along any of the roads leading to either of these beaches. Cars will be towed.
Executive Order #61 was made effective on May 15. It addresses the easing of restrictions on the businesses listed below. Stafford is following the Governor’s guidelines and is not included as part of Northern Virginia. One common theme for all the reopened non-essential businesses is occupancy rates of 50% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy for businesses and the need for keeping six feet of separation, outside of dining establishments.
- Restaurants, Dining Establishments, Food Courts, Breweries, Microbreweries, Distilleries, Wineries and Tastings Rooms – 50% occupancy outdoors, no more than 10 patrons seated together at tables placed six feet apart, employees must wear masks, thorough cleaning every 60 minutes during operation (businesses can visit https://staffordcountyva.gov/outdoordining for application information)
- Farmers Markets – Farmers Markets may reopen with social distancing, employees and vendors must wear masks and supply hand sanitizer or handwashing stations for patrons
- Non-Essential businesses – 50% occupancy, public-facing employees must wear masks
- Fitness and Exercise Facilities – May open for OUTDOOR activities only – indoor activities are prohibited. Indoor pools are closed. Outdoor pools may be open for lap swimming only and must be limited to one person per lane. The Rouse Center is not open yet.
- Personal Care and Grooming Services – By appointment, six feet of physical distancing between stations, only one appointment per service provider at a time, clients must wear face masks, frequently contacted surfaces must be thoroughly cleaned every 60 minutes with every tool cleaned after use
- Campgrounds – Minimum of 20 feet must be maintained between units for all lots
- Indoor Shooting Ranges – 50% occupancy, public-facing employees must wear masks and patrons are encouraged to wear masks
Governor Northam’s order states that the Stay-at-Home order, physical distancing, teleworking, restricting businesses and gatherings measures helped lower transmission rates. Because we are still in the pandemic, the Governor still left the following restrictions in place.
- Certain Recreational and Entertainment Businesses – Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums and other indoor entertainment centers, racetracks, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, public and private social clubs, and all other forms of indoor entertainment are CLOSED
- Gatherings of More Than 10 individuals – Gatherings of more than 10 individuals are prohibited. With respect to churches, religions services must be limited to no more than 50% of occupancy, and those attending services must sit six feet apart and are recommended to wear masks
- Public Beaches – The Governor allowed Virginia Beach to reopen with certain restrictions in place. This decision applies only to Virginia Beach. No other beaches, including Aquia Landing and Falmouth Beach, are allowed to open in Phase I, for any activities except exercise and fishing.
- Overnight Summer Camps – Overnight summer camps must cease.
One last note, boat docks and marinas were not listed explicitly in the Governor’s order. It appears most are open for business as usual, but boaters might want to check ahead of time.
Again, Stafford County recommends that the public continue following all state and federal guidelines. Likewise, please continue to visit www.staffordcountyva.gov/coronavirus where residents can find pertinent COVID-19 related information and County operating status.