NORFOLK, Va. — We’re just around the corner from Phase 3 of Governor Ralph Northam’s Forward Virginia reopening plan.
Economists at Old Dominion University’s Dragas Center for Economic Analysis and Policy anticipate the Hampton Roads economy will make an economic recovery during Phase 3, which begins next Wednesday.
Vinod Agarwal, a professor of economics at ODU, said the economic recovery will depend on just how comfortable people feel returning back to normal.
“Phase 3 opens up the economy in a much more broad fashion," Agarwal said. "Phase 3 also provides a signal to consumers that we are much safer now, than we were a month ago."
Agarwal said the next couple of months will herald improvements for the hotel industry, unemployment numbers and retail business.
The question is: how much?
“It is all going to depend on how consumers react to it,” said Agarwal.
"In other words, do they feel safe?" he asked. "Are they going to go out and do things which they have not done for awhile?"
Phase 3 will allow gatherings of up to 250 people and lift capacity limits on restaurants and non-essential retail stores, but social distancing guidelines will stay in place.
“Other states are going to have a problem of having to close down and put more restrictions in place. I think our governor has been overly cautious, but I think he’s going in the right track," Agarwal said.
Even as Virginia prepared for the next phase of reopening, the message from Northam remained the same as his initial addresses: we should all continue to take precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
He reiterated the message during a press conference earlier this week.
“If we become complacent and don’t continue to follow these guidelines, then the possibilities are there that we would have to go back," he said. "I don’t wanna do that, I don’t think anybody wants to do that.”
For now, even though North Carolina is delaying their Phase 3 after experiencing a spike in cases, Virginia will move forward to a new normal.