NORFOLK, Va. - Gov. Northam says new restrictions taking effect Friday will be strictly enforced.
"It’s going to be very strict, we're going to drop in on restaurants and bars unannounced and make sure that people are complying," he said.
The new restrictions are aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Hampton Roads, a hot spot in the state.
Restaurants can't serve alcohol past 10 p.m., must close by midnight, and keep their inside capacity below 50 percent. Social gatherings have to be under 50 people.
"We’re trying to move forward. We’re trying to get our children back in school. We’re trying to get our businesses open, but in order to do that the numbers have to come down," he said.
Health officials are optimistic the new restrictions and increased messaging will help bring the numbers down. "We seem to be seeing a decline when we go out to restaurants in seeing huge social gatherings, but I think it's early to say where we are with that," said Dr. Demetria Lindsay from the Dept. of Health.
Earlier in the day, Northam announced Virginia would contribute $1.4 million to the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, which supports food banks throughout the Commonwealth. The money is coming from the federal CARES Act. Other companies, including Sentara, are also contributing.
"COVID-19 has been so impactful on individuals and now we’ve got a hurricane that's threatening to come up the coast, so we have to be prepared and make sure that all of us have access to nutritious food," he said.
Northam says his team is tracking the hurricane, but the pandemic presents some complications. "There’s a challenge with COVID-19 and shelters as you might imagine. How do we shelter individuals? Looking at this storm, I don’t anticipate having to evacuate anybody, but I do encourage Virginians, especially those here in Hampton Roads, to go through their preparation plans," he said.