Virginia’s governor extends business closures over COVID-19 concerns

Updated: Apr. 15, 2020 at 5:22 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - In an expected move Wednesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam extended the time a long list of businesses in the state must remain closed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When people say that it’s time to stop what we’re doing and get back to normal, they’re wrong,” said Northam. “I know this has been a frustrating time for all of us. People are out of work. Businesses are closed. Our entire sense of normal life is out the window."

Northam’s executive order dealing with this part of the response was set to expire next week. His decision to extend it by two more weeks means it will remain in effect until May 8.

“But if we let off the brakes and try to go back to the way things were, we’ll see another spike in cases that could overwhelm our hospitals,” said Northam.

Under the extension, the state’s ban on public gatherings of more than 10 is still in effect. Non-essential businesses like barbershops, fitness centers and concert venues remain closed.

Essential businesses like grocery stores and gas stations will remain open, but those businesses need to continue to adhere to social distancing and good hygiene guidelines.

“I want everyone to know these sacrifices that you have made have been necessary and they are helping. They are slowing the spread. They are giving us time to plan and prepare,” said Northam.

The state also announced Virginia is receiving $70 million from the Cares Act. That will be distributed as direct cash assistance to childcare operations that are still open for the children of essential workers. But the state will also use the money to prepare schools to act as emergency childcare centers.

“The commonwealth is strong. Our children are resilient and together we will get through this,” said Pam Northam, First Lady of Virginia.

The governor also reminded everyone to wear cloth masks while out in public. He says that will be the new normal along with other social distancing guidelines for months to come so everyone should get used to it.

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