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Citizens discuss plans to reopen

Virginia Gov. Ralph S. Northam presented a timeline Monday, May 4, to gradually reopen the commonwealth beginning May 15, but many area residents are wary of things going back to normal too quickly.

Holly Pleasants

Executive Order 53 went into effect Tuesday, March 25, closing businesses such as barbershops, retail shops and gyms. The order also restricted restaurants to delivery and takeout services only. On Monday, Northam extended the order to expire May 14, at which point the state is anticipating a move into Phase 1 of its 10- to 12-week reopening process.

Holly Pleasants, 21, of Cumberland, said reopening the state is a hard situation to judge.

“We don’t really know what is going to happen until it is happening. But I do think that it may be time to start trying to recover economically,” she said.  “With everyone being out of work, it’s already hard on everyone, and only getting harder the longer that is the case.”

Pleasants has a 4-month-old at home and said she and her baby may remain home for a while and observe how the reopening process progresses. She’s aware that other family members may not have that choice.

“My husband is the assistant manager at Joseph A. Bank and his job requires him to measure people and fit them for suits, which is not something he can do from 6 feet apart. He has to pretty much be right in their personal space to properly do his job. So I’m not sure when his job will be able to open up in these phases, but we’re looking forward to some normalcy.”

Denise Basham

“I think the governor feels compelled to start opening up Virginia, but I am worried, as I am sure he is, about more deaths than before,” Denise Basham, 68, of Farmville, said.

Will Blanton, 27, of Farmville, has many concerns about the reopening.

“I think that in terms of handling COVID-19 itself we’re reopening too soon, and I think another wave of positive cases will be the result.”

Blanton said although he thinks reopening should be postponed until the state sees a bigger downtrend in coronavirus cases, the nation’s economic standing means waiting may not be much of a choice for the working class.

Will Blanton

“I think it puts a lot more Americans at risk than it helps, but at the same time there’s the risk of a larger financial crisis. I really wish that the politics would stop and actual solutions for taking care of Americans would be prioritized.”

Charlene Hodges, 61, of Cartersville, said she thinks it’s good Northam is opening the state up in stages.

“Hopefully it will be the right decision. I know small businesses really need to be open as soon as possible to survive this pandemic,” she said.