RICHMOND, VA – As COVID-19 cases spike across the country, Governor Ralph Northam announced new restrictions to prevent the spread of the virus in Virginia.
While the commonwealth’s case count per capita and positivity rate remain comparatively low, all five health regions are experiencing increases in new coronavirus cases, positive tests, and hospitalizations.
“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” said Governor Northam.
The following measures will take effect at midnight on Sunday:
All public and private in-person gatherings are now limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes both outdoor and indoor settings. (Restaurants and schools are not subject to this new limit, according to Northam’s spokeswoman Alena Yarmosky. VHSL Executive Director Billy Haun said this limit applies to spectators, not participants of high school sporting events.)
Everyone age five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This expands the current mask mandate, which only required all individuals age 10 and over.
All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. While certain essential retail businesses have been required to adhere to these regulations as a best practice, violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor.
The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room.
All restaurants, including those listed above, must close by midnight. Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, however, under current restrictions, individuals that choose to consume alcohol prior to 10 p.m. must be served as in a restaurant and remain seated at tables six feet apart.
Virginia is averaging 1,500 newly-reported cases per day, up from a statewide peak of approximately 1,200 in May.
The full text of amended Executive Order Sixty-Three and Order of Public Health Emergency Five and sixth amended Executive Order Sixty-Seven and Order of Public Health Emergency Seven will be made available here.