NoVa asks to keep restrictions in place, dozens of parole-eligible violent offenders released, a Catholic wedding by proxy, and more headlines

Virginia Mercury

Our daily roundup of headlines from Virginia and elsewhere.

• Gov. Ralph Northam detailed his plans for a gradual reopening tentatively scheduled to begin Friday. The biggest change is churches and non-essential retail businesses will be able to reopen at 50 percent capacity. Barbershops and salons will be able to reopen on an appointment-only basis. Gyms and restaurants will remain closed except in limited cases where outdoor dining or exercise is an option.—The Virginian-Pilot

• Leaders in Northern Virginia, saying they’re nowhere near ready to begin lifting lockdown restrictions, said they plan to take Northam up on his promise to allow some regions to keep current guidelines in place.—The Washington Post

• “Virginia remains far from Gov. Ralph Northam’s goal of 10,000 tests per day and is not meeting the testing goals laid out by leading health researchers. The state’s already low testing numbers are inflated by unreliable antibody testing. And the state’s contact tracing workforce remains below national standards and the state’s own goal.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Perdue Farms told doctors treating its poultry workers on the Eastern Shore how to advise their patients, urging them to recommend one week away from work instead of two. Asked about the unusual dynamic, the leader of local health care group Eastern Shore Rural Health said, “I believe it is in the best interest of the Eastern Shore community not to respond to your question.”—The Washington Post

• “During a push to accelerate the review of parole-eligible inmates because of the coronavirus pandemic, Virginia released dozens of violent offenders, including killers, rapists and kidnappers, blindsiding prosecutors and victims’ families who say they were not properly notified as required by law, a review by The Associated Press has found.”—Associated Press

• The state inspector general is investigating the parole board’s handling of the case of a man convicted of killing a Richmond police officer in 1979, according to an anonymous source. Republicans in the General Assembly called on Northam to halt the 64-year-old’s release, which is scheduled for today.—WTVRAssociated Press

• A fourth state prison inmate died of COVID-19 — “a 66-year-old male held at the Buckingham Correctional Center” who “was serving multiple life sentences for murder, aggravated kidnapping, robbery and sexual intercourse without consent.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• Some prisoners say they’re being forced to work long hours making cloth masks for the prison system and other state and local government agencies. “On various occasions we worked 12 hours, 10 hours, 9 hours for 13 days straight and 12 days straight.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch

• “The Trump administration has asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit filed by three Democratic state attorneys general seeking to force the U.S. archivist to recognize Virginia’s vote to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and adopt it in the U.S. Constitution.”—Associated Press

• The state commissioner of health ordered the city of Petersburg to restore water service to residents who were cut off for nonpayment before the pandemic. The City Council had rejected an amnesty program and was planning to prosecute 100 residents.—The Progress-Index

• A 26-year-old Latin teacher in Rappahannock County and her groom, a Marine stationed in California, took advantage of a little-used canon law of the Catholic Church allowing marriage by proxy to tie the knot amid lockdown. “We felt like amidst all the uncertainty it was the one thing we were most looking forward to.”—The New York Times

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