What businesses are essential and non-essential?

Breakdown of what businesses are closed in Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is ordering some businesses to close as the coronavirus outbreak continues to infect the commonwealth.

"There’s no playbook for this. Every action affects people and their livelihoods. We are acting judiciously and with full regard for the consequences,” said Northam.

Tuesday, Northam gave out this email address for any business that has questions about closures: business@virginia.gov

Monday afternoon, Northam and his COVID-19 crisis team also announced the executive order and also officially banned all public gatherings of more than 10 people.

“It is clear that many of our non-essential businesses must close," said Northam.

For at least the next 30 days, recreational and entertainment businesses like bowling alleys, theaters and gyms must close. Non-essential retail can remain open but only if the business can adhere to the 10 people or fewer rule, keep people six feet apart and have proper sanitation products in place.

Police and deputies will be able to enforce this. Any business in violation of the order may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

“Make no mistake. If you are essential and open, you have a special responsibility to do the right thing,” said Northam.

Restaurants and bars can remain open but for takeout or delivery service only. Northam says medical service providers, grocery stores and other supply chain operations will remain open during this time.

“You will still be able to buy food and necessary supplies for you and your family," said Northam.

If your employer isn’t providing a safe space, you can report them. Also, the governor said that daycare operations will be able to keep operating because they are caring for the children of front-line workers battling the virus.

For questions on what is essential or non-essential, email business@virginia.gov.

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Public Gatherings

All gatherings of more than 10 people are banned statewide, beginning at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. This does not include gatherings that involve the provision of health care or medical services, access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; operations of the media; law enforcement agencies; or operations of government.

K-12 Schools

All schools will remain closed through the end of this academic year. The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) will issue guidance to help divisions execute plans to continue instruction, while ensuring students are served equitably, regardless of income level, access to technology, English learner status, or special needs. This includes options for additional instruction through summer programming, integrating instruction into coursework next year, and allowing students to make up content. VDOE will submit a waiver to the federal government to lift end-of-year testing requirements and is exploring options to waive state mandated tests.

Recreation and Entertainment Businesses

The following recreation and entertainment businesses are considered non-essential and must close to the public beginning at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020:

  • Theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers;
  • Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, indoor exercise facilities;
  • Beauty salons, barbershops, spas, massage parlors, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are performed that would not allow compliance with social distancing guidelines to remain six feet apart;
  • Racetracks and historic horse racing facilities;
  • Bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, indoor shooting ranges, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement.

Dining and On-Site Alcohol Establishments

All dining and congregation areas in the following establishments must close to the public beginning at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. These establishments may continue to offer delivery and/or takeout services. Establishments include:

  • Restaurants;
  • Dining establishments;
  • Food courts;
  • Farmers markets;
  • Breweries;
  • Microbreweries;
  • Distilleries;
  • Wineries; and
  • Tasting rooms.

Retail Businesses

The following retail businesses are considered essential and may remain open during normal business hours:

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
  • Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers;
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities;
  • Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
  • ·Beer, wine, and liquor stores;
  • Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores;
  • Retail located within healthcare facilities;
  • Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
  • Pet stores and feed stores;
  • Printing and office supply stores; and
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners.

All essential retail establishments must, to the extent possible, adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing practices on common surfaces, and other appropriate workplace guidance from state and federal authorities.

Any brick-and-mortar retail business not listed above must limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment, adhere to social distancing recommendations, sanitize common surfaces, and apply relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities. If any such business cannot adhere to the 10-patron limit with proper social distancing requirements, it must close.

Additional Guidance

Professional businesses not listed above must utilize telework as much as possible. Where telework is not feasible, such businesses must adhere to social distancing recommendations, enhanced sanitizing procedures, and apply relevant workplace guidance from state and federal authorities, including CDC, OSHA, and the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry.

Businesses in violation of this order may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Nothing in Executive Order Fifty-Three limits the provision of health care or medical services, access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; the operations of the media; law enforcement agencies; or operations of government.

The full text of Executive Order Fifty-Three can be found here. Additional guidance and a Frequently Asked Questions guide can be found here.

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