HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - New restrictions are limiting how businesses are operating throughout the state after a spike in COVID-19 cases.
Governor Ralph Northam announced Friday new restrictions in an effort to stop the spread of the virus in Virginia.
“While the Commonwealth’s case count per capita and positivity rate remain comparatively low, all five health regions are experiencing increases in new COVID-19 cases, positive tests, and hospitalizations,” the governor stated in a press release.
“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,” said Governor Northam. “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.”
The new restrictions make it difficult for businesses, especially restaurants.
“Most of us are just getting by,” said Vanguard Brewpub & Distillery President Randy Thomas.
He said some businesses are doing well, but many are struggling.
After being down 60% in sales, Thomas said things were starting to move back up in the right direction. He said sales were going up and people were starting to come back to their establishment that operates as a brewpub and distillery. They serve food, and before COVID-19, hit they held concerts.
The restrictions went into effect Sunday at midnight.
“It was a bit discouraging that we had just started getting reservations coming in and seeing the activity increasing, and then all of a sudden the new restrictions put a damper on that because now we're having to cancel several things,” said Thomas.
They had had to cancel a wedding rehearsal and other events.
Under the new restrictions, all public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from 250 people for both outdoor and indoor settings.
Restaurants can’t serve alcohol after 10 p.m. and must close by midnight.
“If you survived that first round of PPP [Paycheck Protection Program], that really helped a lot. Most businesses that got PPP funding were able to pay their staff and survive, and those funds are gone,” said Thomas. “Now, without a further round of funding and you start cutting everybody's occupancy and you restrict revenue. Not many people can afford to do that very long.”
Old Dominion University Professor of Economics Bob McNab said some businesses likely won’t survive the pandemic.
“We’re facing another significant hurdle that some cannot surmount, so at the end of the day when we emerge from this in mid- to late-2021, the landscape in terms of restaurants, bars, hotels, etc. may look a little bit different than when we entered into the pandemic,” said McNab.