April 1 brings more relaxations in Virginia COVID-19 restrictions
Gov. Ralph Northam continues to relax the foot on the brakes with COVID-19 vaccinations increasing, and cases and hospitalizations decreasing.
Northam announced Tuesday that there will be a slight pullback on restrictions beginning April 1, next Thursday.
The universal mask requirement is still in place. Nothing new with restaurant capacity. You’ll still be encouraged to physical distance in grocery stores, post offices, et cetera.
But, hey, you might be able to do some things outside.
“With increased vaccination capacity and our health metrics continuing to trend the right direction, we can safely take these targeted steps to ease certain mitigation measures,” Northam said Tuesday.
“Virginians have come so far over the past year, and now is not the time to simply throw the doors open or let down our guard. While some capacity limits will be increased, we must all remember to stay vigilant and work together to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.”
The paternalistic language aside, it’s a step forward – a tiny step.
Key changes coming April 1 include:
- Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 50 people for indoor settings and 100 people for outdoor settings. Social gatherings are currently limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
- Entertainment venues: All indoor and outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity. Indoor venues must operate at 30 percent capacity or with a maximum of 500 people, an increase from the current cap of 250 people. Outdoor venues must operate at 30 percent capacity, with no specific cap on the number of attendees. These venues were previously limited to 30 percent capacity or up to 1,000 attendees, whichever was fewer.
- Recreational sporting events: 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, and from 250 to 500 people per field or 30 percent capacity, whichever is less for outdoor settings.
- In-person graduation and commencement events: Last week, Northam issued preliminary guidance on safe in-person graduations and commencements, which included a cap of 5,000 people or 30 percent of the venue capacity for outdoor events, whichever is less. Events held indoors may have up to 500 people, or 30 percent of the venue capacity, whichever is less. Attendees must wear masks and follow other guidelines and safety protocols to ensure proper distancing.
The full text of Fourth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine is available here.
Virginia has now administered more than 3.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and is currently giving approximately 50,000 shots per day.
Virginians are strongly encouraged to make sure they are pre-registered at vaccinate.virginia.gov, or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA, to ensure that the Virginia Department of Health has all the relevant information to reach out when individuals are eligible to schedule vaccination appointments.
Story by Chris Graham