Northam announces changes, credits decline in cases and hospitalizations
ALEXANDRIA, VA-Today Gov. Ralph Northam (D-VA) announced an easing of restrictions related to COVID-19. Beginning Monday, March 1, certain outdoor and entertainment venues will be allowed to operate at increased capacity. The decision is a result of the decline of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations due to severe illness.
“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of all Virginians, hospitalization and positivity rates across the Commonwealth are the lowest they have been in nearly three months,” said Northam. “As key health metrics show encouraging trends and we continue to ramp up our vaccination efforts, we can begin to gradually resume certain recreational activities and further reopen sectors of our economy.”
The governor has amended Executive Order 72 Key changes include:
- Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 25 people for outdoor settings, while remaining at 10 persons for indoor settings.
- Entertainment venues: Outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate with up to 1,000 individuals or at 30 percent capacity, whichever is lower. If current trends continue, these venues may be able to operate at 30 percent capacity with no cap on the number of people permitted to attend starting in April. Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity with a cap of 250 people. All entertainment venues were previously limited to a maximum of 250 individuals.
- Dining establishments: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol will be permitted until midnight, extended from 10:00 p.m. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms still must be closed between midnight and 5:00 a.m.
- Overnight summer camps: As of May 1, overnight summer camps will be able to open with strict mitigation measures in place. Registration can begin now.
The new guidelines will stand for one month. After that period, they may be modified depending on metrics. Current guidelines for retail businesses, fitness and exercise, large amusement venues, and personal grooming services will remain in place.
Virginia still asks residents to maintain a Safer-At-Home strategy. Teleworking is advised.
“Even as we take steps to safely ease public health guidelines, we must all remain vigilant so we can maintain our progress—the more we stay home, mask up, and practice social distancing, the more lives we will save from this dangerous virus,” the governor said.