Community Associations and Virginia’s Phase 3 Reopening (updated 7/1/20)
Phase 3 Reopening. The Governor has confirmed that effective July 1 (and continuing until further notice), the Commonwealth will enter Phase 3 of its planned gradual reopening process. Here is a link to the Governor’s Executive Order.
Based on the Governor’s published guidance (“Safer at Home: Phase Three”), while most of the Phase 2 requirements pertinent to community associations remain in effect, there are a few important changes that will loosen restrictions on recreational and exercise facilities and pools. Also, the limit on social gatherings is being increased from 50 to 250 individuals, except in certain locations where a smaller gathering size may be required based on the size of the facility. When reviewing the Phase 3 Guidelines from the Governor’s Office, keep in mind that much of that document simply repeats the Phase 2 Guidelines, but with a few important revisions. See below for more information on Phase 3, and read the Phase 3 Guidelines in their entirety, see the Governor’s website at: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/governor-of-virginia/pdf/Virginia-Forward-Phase-Three-Guidelines.pdf.
EO-63 – Face Coverings. For information regarding face covering requirements, click on the link here.
EO55 – Stay-At-Home. To fight the spread of the virus, Virginia Governor Northam issued EO55, an executive “stay-at-home” order, to supplement EO53 that he issued previously (requiring social distancing and other measures). Under EO55, Virginia residents were required to remain in their residences, leaving only for certain activities. As a reminder, EO55 expired on June 4 for the entire Commonwealth.
What are associations permitted to do under Virginia’s “Phase 3” reopening?
On July 1, the Commonwealth began Phase 3 of its planned gradual reopening process. For general best practices applicable to all facilities, associations should review the “Guidelines for All Business Sectors” Section of the Phase 3 Guidelines (click here for the Guidelines document on the Governor’s website link).
In Phase 3, fitness centers, recreation centers, pools and certain sports and exercise facilities can still remain open (for both outdoor and indoor activities) but only if a number of significant restrictions continue to be implemented.
Social gathering restrictions in Phase 3 are loosened from a maximum of 50 to no more than 250 individuals or, if lower, a specified percentage of the occupancy load for certain facilities, as provided in the sector-specific guidance. For those associations with restaurants, Phase 3 continues the process of reducing restrictions.
Of particular relevance to community associations, the primary differences between Phase 2 and Phase 3 are:
All Common Facilities: maintain at least 10 feet of distance (between members of different households) for establishments where exercise activities and at least six feet of distance for all other settings.
Social Gatherings: 250 instead of 50 person limit.
Physical Distancing: must maintain at least 10 feet of distance in facilities where exercise activities, singing or cheering are performed, and at least six feet of distance for all other settings.
Fitness/Exercise Facilities: occupancy must be limited to no more than 75% (instead of 30%) of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, if applicable, while maintaining a minimum of 10 feet of physical distancing between all individuals as much as possible.
Pools: Up to 75% occupancy, or less if necessary, so that 10 feet of physical distance may be maintained between patrons not of the same household. Free swim is allowed, and there is no longer the requirement to limit lap lanes to just three swimmers. During swimming instruction or exercise classes, ten feet of distance is still required, except that (i) parents or guardians may support a participant during class, and (ii) instructors may have contact with swimmers when necessary.
Per the Governor’s Phase 3 Guidelines, the following are some of the mandates that must be followed when opening recreational and exercise facilities under Phase 3 – if all requirements cannot be met, then the facility must remain closed:
Phase 3 – All Recreation Facilities
- Strictly follow the physical distancing guidelines, enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices, and enhanced workplace safety practices provided in the “Safer at Home: Phase Three Guidelines for All Business Sectors” on the Governor’s website (click here for the Guidelines document on the Governor’s website link).
- Patrons, members and guests (who are not members of the same household) must remain at least ten feet apart during in all areas where there are exercise activities.
- Employees working in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth. Lifeguards responding to distressed swimmers are exempt from this requirement.
- Provide hand sanitizing stations, including at the entrance/exit.
- Prior to entering the facility, should screen individuals for COVID-19 symptoms, via symptom-related questions conducted in accordance with applicable privacy and confidentiality laws. Children should be screened per CDC-guidance.
- Post signage at the entrance advising that persons with a fever, COVID-19 symptoms or known exposure to a COVID-19, are prohibited from entering the establishment.
- Post signage with public health reminders regarding physical distancing, gatherings, options for high risk individuals, and staying home if sick. (see the Governor’s Phase 3 Guidelines for links to sample signs).
- Hot tubs, spas, saunas, splash pads, spray pools, and interactive play features must still remain closed.
Phase 3 – Fitness Centers/Exercise Facilities
- See above under “All Recreation Facilities.”
- Occupancy limited to 75% capacity of the lowest occupancy load, while all individuals must maintain a physical distance of ten feet, including between instructors and participants of group exercise and fitness classes, and between personal trainers and their clients.
- Fitness equipment should be separated to ensure ten feet of physical separation when using the equipment.
- Facility operator must clean and disinfect shared equipment after each use.
- Prohibit the use of any equipment that cannot be thoroughly disinfected between uses (e.g., climbing rope, exercise bands, etc.), or equipment requiring more than one person to operate unless all are from the same household (e.g., free weights when it requires a spotter).
Phase 3 – Indoor/Outdoor Pools
- See above under “All Recreation Facilities.”
- Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools, interactive play features, must remain closed.
- Up to 75% occupancy, provided that ten feet of physical distance may be maintained between patrons not of the same household.
- Free swim is allowed.
- Swimming instruction and water exercise classes are permissible if participants can maintain a physical distance of 10 feet, including between instructors and class participants. [However, parents or guardians may support a participant during class, and instructors may have contact with swimmers when necessary.]
- Seating in pool areas must have at least ten feet of separation between individuals of different households.
- Must clean and disinfect seating (including lifeguard stations) after each use.
- Employees working in customer-facing areas are required to wear face coverings over their nose and mouth, but lifeguards responding to distressed swimmers are exempt from this requirement.
Federal, state and local responses to COVID-19 are changing quickly. We encourage associations to monitor relevant government websites and this page for further updates.
Legal Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be legal advice. Legal advice must be tailored to the specific facts and circumstances of each case and each association’s governing documents. Also, it is not intended to be a full and exhaustive explanation of all legal considerations, nor should it be used to replace the individualized advice of your legal counsel.