News and Commentary

Northam Tightens Virginia COVID-19 Restrictions Again, Capping Gatherings At 25
RICHMOND, VA - FEBRUARY 02: Virginia Governor Ralph Northam speaks with reporters at a press conference at the Governor's mansion on February 2, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia. Northam denies allegations that he is pictured in a yearbook photo wearing racist attire.
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Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam tightened statewide COVID-19 restrictions effective Monday, which included capping both indoor and outdoor gatherings at 25 people.

“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” Northam said in a statement Friday. “Everyone is tired of this pandemic and restrictions on our lives. I’m tired, and I know you are tired too. But as we saw earlier this year, these mitigation measures work. I am confident that we can come together as one Commonwealth to get this virus under control and save lives.”

Virginia is seeing an average of approximately 1,500 new COVID-19 cases per day, which exceeds its former peak of around 1,200 per day in May. As the governor’s statement explained, positivity rates remain at 5% and hospitalizations have increased 35% in the past month.

“We are seeing #COVID19 surge around the country—cases are rising much faster in other states than in Virginia, but we cannot afford to wait to take action. So today we are taking important steps to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” Northam said further in a tweet, which went on to list some of the restrictions, which includes cutting off alcohol sales at 10 p.m. and expanded mask-wearing.

Churches are also subject to the governor’s executive order, which mandates that “churches must mark seating and common areas where attendees can congregate in six-foot increments to follow physical distancing guidelines between those who aren’t family members,” according to NBC 10 News.

As the governor’s statement explained:

“The following measures will take effect at midnight on Sunday, November 15:

  • 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.
  • 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 certain essential retail businesses have been required to adhere to these regulations as a best practice, violations will now be enforceable through 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. Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, however, under current restrictions, individuals that choose to consume alcohol prior to 10:00 p.m. must be served as in a restaurant and remain seated at tables six feet apart.”

Related: Virginia Democrat Governor Ralph Northam To Declare Emergency Banning All Guns From State Capitol Grounds For Upcoming Protests

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