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Virginia Gov. Northam eases COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings, venues starting April 1

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Posted at 1:57 PM, Mar 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-24 19:15:27-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that the state will ease COVID-19 restrictions on social gatherings and venues beginning April 1.

In a press conference, Northam said the decision was made due to the fact that there are fewer COVID-19 cases being reported and more people getting vaccinated in the state.

News 3 spoke to event planner Steve Rose about how this affects him.

Rose, who owns Williamsburg Event Rental and serves as the president of event planning nonprofit Culture Fix, said the entire event planning industry has been drastically impacted by COVID-19.

“We are were very excited about that, both at Williamsburg Rentals and Culture Fix,” Rose said. “I think people are ready to go outside and do something.”

With fewer COVID-19 cases, more people will be allowed to go outside and attend events.

“This combination of lower case counts and higher vaccinations means that we can slowly consider and safely easing some of the mitigation restrictions that we have in place,” Northam said.

According to Northam's office, some of the key changes taking place April 1 will be:

  • The number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 50 people for indoor settings and 100 people for outdoor settings. Currently, social gatherings are limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Indoor and outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity, with a maximum allowance of 500 people or 30 percent capacity for indoor venues and no specific cap outside of the 30 percent capacity for outdoor venues. Previously, these venues were limited to 250 people or 30 percent capacity for indoor venues and up to 1,000 attendees or 30 percent capacity for outdoor venues.
  • The number of spectators allowed at recreational sporting events will increase from 25 to 100 people per field or 30 percent capacity, whichever is less, for indoor settings. For outdoor settings, the cap will increase from 250 to 500 people per field or 30 percent capacity, whichever is less.
  • In-person graduation and commencement events may have up to 500 people or 30 percent capacity, whichever is less, for indoor events and 5,000 people or 30 percent capacity, whichever is less, for outdoor events.

News 3 spoke to Rose back in March 2020 when the pandemic first hit, and then again in July.

“A year ago we were all thinking by June we would be good, and here we are wondering if June a year later we can do it. It’s kind of crazy,” Rose said.

He says right now, some people are reluctant to plan events like weddings, fearful that the restrictions will be tightened again.

“I think everybody’s a little gun-shy planning anything even for the next few months,” Rose said.

During Tuesday's press conference, Northam said "all options are on the table" and adjustments could be made to the restrictions, but added that he feels like Virginia is headed in a good direction.

Rose says business is starting to pick back up and he is hopeful for the future.

“It was just a matter of planning and hoping that you keep going in the same direction,” Rose said.