Richmond to delay moving into Phase One of state reopening plan until May 28 at the earliest

Mayor Stoney today announced that the city requested and has been granted a local delay of the state’s reopening plan. The city will move into Phase One no earlier than May 28. 

“I want to thank Governor Northam for working with us,” said Mayor Stoney. “This step will make Richmond safer as we face this challenge together.”

The city has experienced an increase in both positive cases and percent positivity in the past two weeks. Percent positivity speaks to the intersection of the spread of the virus and the recently enhanced testing capacity; the metric represents the percentage of people tested who have been positively diagnosed. The images below illustrate those trends. 

The state provided the Stoney Administration with the information on local percent positivity on Thursday morning, which then allowed the city to formally request a delay.

The mayor cited that data provided by the state as the key factor in applying for the delay. 

“Right now, the data is showing an increase in percent positivity over the past two weeks. Therefore, I cannot justify risking the health and safety of the residents of the City of Richmond by moving forward with Phase One.”

The governor plans to move the majority of the state into Phase 1 of the reopening plan on Friday, May 15. A coalition of Northern Virginia localities have applied for and been granted a delay. 

In his letter to Governor Northam and during Thursday’s announcement, Mayor Stoney emphasized the outsized effect the pandemic is having on Richmond’s most vulnerable, including communities of color and essential workers. 

“For me, it’s not just the total number of cases in the region or the city that I believe we must be vigilant in monitoring – it’s the impact this disease is having on our most vulnerable,” said Mayor Stoney. “It’s the essential personnel, the grocery workers, the uber drivers, the restaurant workers and my own employees here at city hall.”

In the press conference, Mayor Stoney cited the disparate impact the disease has on Black Richmonders as a reason he requested the delay, stating, “In Richmond, 16 out of the 18 resident deaths have been Black people. This is a factor we can’t ignore.”

On Wednesday, May 13, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus published a letter in opposition to reopening on Friday due to the disproportionate toll it may take on the Black community. On Thursday, May 14, the Richmond branch of the NAACP issued a press release supporting Mayor Stoney’s decision to request a delay. 

The mayor indicated he will continue to prioritize areas that are at the highest-risk of community spread and fatality, making a request that the state continue to support the city in its targeted, intentional testing events. 

He also made an appeal to the business community, thanking them for saving lives with their patience and compliance. 

“Please be patient with me and my administration as we work to ensure community safety. I’m so thankful to you for making tough, responsible decisions in the face of a global crisis.”

The city will provide specific guidance in the coming days to businesses affected by this delay in reopening, making sure all parties are informed of expectations. 

For timely updates on the city’s response to COVID-19 and a list of available city services, visit

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