On Friday, November 13th, Virginia Governor Northam issued a press release announcing new COVID-19 related restrictions. With new cases surging across the country (and with positive tests and hospitalizations increasing in all five health districts across Virginia), the Governor issued additional restrictions on gatherings.
According to the new restrictions from the governor’s office, the following measures became effective as of midnight on Sunday, Nov. 15th:
- Reduction in public and private gatherings: All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes outdoor and indoor settings. Note: “gatherings” does not include groups working at their place of employment or educational settings.
- Expansion of mask mandate: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This expands the current mask mandate, which has been in place in Virginia since May 29 and requires all individuals aged 10 and over to wear face coverings in indoor public settings.
- Strengthened enforcement within essential retail businesses: All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. While this has been recommended best practice, violations will now be enforced by the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor.
- On-site alcohol curfew: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight.
According to the Governor’s press release, Virginia is averaging 1,500 new COVID-19 cases per day (which is up from the previous peak in May 2020 of 1,200 cases per day). Hospital capacity remains stable, but hospitalizations have increased statewide by more than 35% in the last four weeks.