Va.’s new COVID-19 restrictions now in effect

Gov. Northam announced the new measures against COVID-19 on Thursday
Updated: Dec. 13, 2020 at 12:18 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced increased measures Thursday in the fight against coronavirus throughout the commonwealth, including a nightly curfew.

Starting Monday, Dec. 14, Northam’s modified “stay-at-home” order will include a curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. Essential travel - obtaining food and goods, traveling to and from work and seeking medical attention - will still be allowed during this time. The governor was asked multiple times if this would be enforced, he said Virginians are “asked” to stay at home.

The measures also expand the mask mandate to include all indoor settings, as well as outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible. This includes all Virginians age five and up.

When it comes to social gatherings, the governor dropped the limit to 10 people – it was previously 25. Social gatherings include parties, celebrations or other social events. The limit does not apply to religious services, employment settings or educational settings.

Northam did not put any restrictions on religious gatherings but did send a message to religious leaders.

“I strongly call on our faith leaders to lead the way and set an example for their members. Worship with a mask on is still worship, worship outside or worship online is still worship,” the governor said.

The governor also added new restrictions for spectators at kids’ sporting events; only 25 people are allowed per field at indoor games, two people are allowed per player at outdoor games.

Restaurants and retail stores are already governed by strict social distancing requirements and are not included in the new limit.

The governor spoke about the enforcement of the rules. He said about 200 visits have been done to businesses; about 90% have been compliant with the rules. He said 181 violation notices have been sent and five restaurants in the Richmond and Petersburg areas have been forced to shut down.

All other previous measures will remain in place, and Northam is encouraging teleworking throughout the commonwealth whenever possible.

The executive order will remain in place until Jan. 31 unless rescinded or amended.

“These are common-sense things we can all do to take care of each other and stay safe,” said Northam. “This is not about getting people in trouble—this is about everyone doing their part and reducing opportunities for people to get sick.”

Virginia hit records Wednesday with the number of new COVID cases and hospitalizations. And on Thursday, the 7-day testing positivity rate reached 11%.

Northam says the new measures will remain in effect until Jan. 31.

Thursday’s announcement of increased restrictions comes on the heels of North Carolina’s governor announcing a new curfew on Tuesday, and Baltimore, Maryland saying they’ll close indoor and outdoor dining starting Friday.

Read the full text of the new executive order here.

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