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Gov. Northam issues new social gathering restrictions, mask requirements as Virginia COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations rise

Virus Outbreak Virginia
Posted at 2:19 PM, Dec 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 23:12:15-05

Governor Ralph Northam announced additional COVID-19 restrictions on Thursday.

Northam issued a modified stay at home order and other restrictions as Virginia COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations continue to rise. On Thursday there were 3,915 new cases, 54 additional deaths and 131 new hospitalizations.

The new restrictions include:

  • Modified Stay at Home Order: All individuals in Virginia must remain at their place of residence between the hours of 12 a.m. and 5 a.m. Exceptions include obtaining food and goods, traveling to and from work, and seeking medical attention.
  • Universal mask requirement: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor settings shared with others and when outdoors within six feet of another person. This order expands the current statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since May 29, and requires all individuals aged five and over to wear face coverings in indoor and outdoor public settings outside of their own household. These changes are consistent with new CDC guidelines, released December 4, which recommend universal wearing of face coverings.
  • Reduction in social gatherings: All social gatherings must be limited to 10 individuals, down from the current cap of 25 people. Social gatherings include, but are not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, regardless of whether they occur indoors or outdoors. This does not apply to religious services, employment settings, or educational settings. Restaurants and retail stores are already governed by strict social distancing requirements, and are not included in this limit.
  • Continued limits on dining establishments: Virginia restaurants are currently governed by strict social distancing and sanitization requirements, which remain in place. The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol remains prohibited after 10 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.

The restrictions will go into effect Monday, December 14 at 12:01 a.m., and will remain in effect until January 31, 2021 unless rescinded or amended.

Northam is also encouraging employers to go back to more teleworking options where possible.

Enforcement of restrictions at public businesses like retail stores and restaurants will be increased. ABC and the Health Department do most of the enforcement and Northam said 200 visits to businesses have happened in a month. Officials reported seeing compliance rates of about 90%, he said.

Most complaints about people not wearing masks has been in businesses. 181 enforcement letters have gone out in Virginia so far about infractions, Northam said.

Northam added that this does not change school or university regulations as the decision making power remains local.

Northam also announced limits on recreation sports. Now there will be a 25 people per field limit for indoor sports and two guests per players in outdoor sports.

He added that while the changes do not impact churches, he urged faith leaders to set the example. Northam said, "Worship with a mask on is still worship, worship outside or worship online is still worship."

New restrictions that previously went into effect on November 15 like alcohol sale limits will remain in effect unless changed by the new order announced Thursday, like group gathering sizes.

Click here to view Executive Order Seventy-Two, which incorporates earlier Executive Orders Sixty-Three Sixty-Seven.

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