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Effective Wednesday, July 1, the Commonwealth of Virginia, including Virginia’s Blue Ridge, has moved into Phase Three of its Forward Virginia recovery plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many businesses and places of interest in Virginia’s Blue Ridge have offered adjusted services and operating procedures through various stages of the plan over the past weeks in accordance with guidelines set forth by the CDC, public health officials, and Governor of Virginia.
More detailed information about the Forward Virginia Guidelines, including specific requirements and recommendations for all businesses, can be found on the official Commonwealth of Virginia website. There are additional resources related to COVID-19 on the Forward Virginia website >
Effective May 29, 2020 and pursuant to Governor Northam's Executive Order 63, all patrons aged 10 and over shall wear face coverings over their mouth and nose when entering, exiting, traveling through, or spending time inside buildings.
Individuals who have trouble breathing or have medical conditions that prohibit wearing a mask or face covering will not be required to do so. These individuals will not be required to prove or explain medical conditions.
Additional Details: Executive Order 63 from the Office of the Governor >
We encourage all businesses and individuals to commit to the Virginia's Blue Ridge Stay Safe Pledge as a way to work together to ensure the health and safety of our community. The pledge follows recommended guidelines from the CDC and public health experts on the best ways to limit the spread of COVID-19 and help Virginia's Blue Ridge stay safe as a region for local residents, businesses, and visitors.
If you're a local business, we invite you to let us know you're participating in this Stay Safe initiative by completing a short form. Stay Safe Pledge Form >
Learn more about the VBR Stay Safe Pledge >
The following is an overview of updates regarding specific travel-related business sectors in Virginia. You can also get more information about the response to COVID-19 in Virginia's Blue Ridge with our special COVID-19 Landing Page.
NOTE: Businesses are doing their best to adapt to new policies, health requirements, and best practices in response to COVID-19. We recommend checking directly with specific businesses for the most current information on their services and guidelines, and encourage patience as we all work to get through this together.
Businesses: Restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, cideries, food trucks, wineries, tasting rooms
Phase III: Indoor and outdoor patio spaces can be opened for service, but all parties must be separated by at least 6 feet. Bar seating and congregating in bar areas remains prohibited. Businesses can continue to offer takeout & delivery options.
Local Resources: Restaurants > | Craft Beverages > | Patio Options > | Takeout Maps >
Businesses: Performing arts venues, concert venues, movie theaters, drive-in entertainment, sports venues, botanical gardens, zoos, fairs, carnivals, amusement parks, museums, aquariums, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, trampoline parks, arts & craft facilities, escape rooms, public & private social clubs, other entertainment centers & places of public amusement
Phase III: Businesses may open but occupancy is not to exceed 50% of capacity, or 1,000 patrons. All private bookings are limited to no more than 250 people. 10 feet of physical distancing should be maintained between individuals not of the same household.
Local Resources: Attractions > | Museums > | Natural Sites & Zoos > | Arts & Culture >
Phase III: Social gatherings should be limited to 50% occupancy of the event space, if applicable, or 250 participants, whichever is less.
Local Resources: Calendar of Events > | Calendar of Virtual Events >
Phase III: Hotels & lodging facilities are classified as essential businesses and have remained open, provided they are in compliance with all guidelines and requirements for physical distancing, cleaning & disinfection, and workplace safety practices.
Local Resources: Hotels & Lodging > | B&Bs > | Cabins >
Businesses: Private campgrounds
Phase III: Private campgrounds may open to the public. There should be no gatherings of greater than 250 people in one location.
Local Resources: Camping & Campgrounds >
Businesses: All non-essential brick-and-mortar retail establishments
Phase III: Retail businesses may open but retailers must assist customers in keeping at least 6 feet of space between individuals or households while shopping and waiting in line.
Local Resources: Shopping > | Online Shopping Options in VBR >
Phase III: Farmers markets should continue to offer pre-scheduled ordering and pickup options. On-site shopping is allowed as long as physical distancing guidelines are adhered to and there should be a minimum of 6 feet between parties at tables.
Local Resources: Farmers Markets >
Businesses: Salons, barbershops, spas, massage centers, tanning salons, tattoo shops, other locations where personal care or grooming services are performed
Phase III: Businesses may open but services should be provided through staggered appointments and there must be at least 6 feet of separation between work stations.
Local Resource: Spas & Salons >
Businesses: Indoor & outdoor recreational sports activities
Phase III: Indoor & outdoor recreational sports should maintain 10 feet of physical distance between instructors, participants, and spectators, where practicable. Total number of attendees (including participants & spectators) is not to exceed 50% of capacity, or 250 persons, whichever is less. For sports played on a field, attendees are limited to 250 per field. There should be daily screenings of coaches, officials, staff, and players for COVID-19 prior to admission to the venue.
Local Resources: Sports > | Golf > | Disc Golf >
Businesses: Gyms, recreation centers, sports facilities, exercise facilities
Phase III: Businesses may open but occupancy must be limited to no more than 75% of capacity, while maintaining a minimum of 10 feet of physical distancing between individuals as much as possible. Outdoor activities and classes are permitted, where proper social distancing can be practiced. Facilities should screen patrons for COVID-19 symptoms prior to admission to the facility.
Local Resources: Gyms & Fitness >
Businesses: Indoor & outdoor swimming pools
Phase III: Indoor & outdoor swimming pools may be open at up to 75% occupancy, while maintaining 10 feet of physical distance between patrons not of the same household. Hot tubs, spas, saunas, splash pads, spray pools, and play features must remain closed.
Local Resources: Water Adventures > | Scenic Blueways >
To learn more about Phase Three, visit the Forward Virginia Guidelines website >
All individuals are urged to continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines and use face coverings when in public. If you feel sick or are showing any symptoms of being sick, stay home.
In addition to the guidelines provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia and the transition to Phase Three, there are adjustments being made to trails, parks, and outdoor recreation areas in Virginia’s Blue Ridge, based on decisions being made by land managers.
The following is a list of updates related to outdoor places of interest and recreation activities in Virginia’s Blue Ridge:
Effective June 13, the National Park Service has reopened the Appalachian Trail in Virginia's Blue Ridge, including the popular Triple Crown portion of Dragon's Tooth, McAfee Knob, and Tinker Cliffs. Visitors are advised to observe all CDC health and social distancing guidelines, as well as adhere to Leave No Trace principles, including packing out all trash. National Park Service news release >
The McAfee Knob trailhead parking lot is operating at 50% capacity to reduce overcrowding. Shelters remain closed along the Appalachian Trail in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests. Learn more on the Appalachian Trail Conservancy website >
The Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia’s Blue Ridge is open to the public. Beginning June 13, 2020, the National Park Service reopened access to certain picnic areas and restroom facilities on the Blue Ridge Parkway, including at the Peaks of Otter and Mabry Mill. Learn more >
NOTE: As a result of heavy rains and landslides, the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia's Blue Ridge is currently closed from Milepost 121.4 (U.S. 220) to Milepost 135.9 (Adney Gap). There is a complex road failure near Milepost 128 that will require extensive repairs.
Update (10/7/20): Parkway Section Between Milepost 115.5 & Milepost 121.4 Reopens >
We've created a special Blue Ridge Parkway Detour Route for information about things to do in the area and recommended directions for accessing the Parkway around these closures. Parkway Detour Info >
Carvins Cove is open to the public for boating, fishing, and trails. The boat rental program is currently suspended. Beginning August 1, the Western Virginia Water Authority will begin collecting fees for land-use and boat launching, after temporarily suspending fees. These will be collected through on-site payment drop boxes and in-person at the Boat Landing. Learn more on the Western Virginia Water Authority website >
Explore Park in Roanoke County is open to the public. The park is accessible from the Blue Ridge Parkway via the Route 24 access point at Milepost 112 or via the service entrance at 3900 Rutrough Road SE, Roanoke, VA 24101.
Don's Cab-Inns Campground and Blue Mountain Adventures offer multiple overnight lodging options for camping and campgrounds. Learn more on the Roanoke County website >
Treetop Quest aerial adventure course has resumed daily operations. Learn more >
Tubing, river gear rental and shuttle service on the Roanoke River through Blue Mountain Adventures are available for weekend reservations. Learn more >
The Visitor Center at Explore Park reopened to the public on Saturday, May 23.
The Twin Creeks Brewpub is open Saturdays & Sundays, with a full service restaurant and craft beer. Learn more >
Many recreation sites in the George Washington & Jefferson National Forests have reopened for day use. Campgrounds and facilities within recreation areas remain closed and trash service will not be available, so all visitors are asked to pack out everything they bring in. Learn more on the U.S. Forest Service website >
The following outdoor outfitters are offering various forms of services and rentals:
Aside from certain areas closed due to flooding caused by recent rain, all greenways in the City of Roanoke, Roanoke County, Salem, and Vinton are open.
Additional Information: Roanoke Valley Greenways website >
Virginia State Parks, including Smith Mountain Lake State Park, Fairy Stone State Park, Claytor Lake State Park, Natural Bridge State Park, and Douthat State Park, are open to the public. Learn more on the Virginia State Parks website >
For additional information and resources related to the outdoors, Roanoke Outside has put together a list of COVID-19 Outdoor Updates that is being regularly updated with details about outdoor businesses and access to parks & trails. Outdoor Updates >