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Northam announces new COVID-19 restrictions

Virginia covid-19
(© Ingo Menhard –

Gov. Ralph Northam has announced a series of COVID-19 public restrictions to take effect at midnight Sunday that will include a reduction in public and private gathering and a 10 p.m. curfew for on-site alcohol sales.

Actually, all things considered, pretty light.

“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,” Northam said.

To that point, the seven-day average of new reported COVID-19 positive tests is 1,499, or 17.6 positives per 100,000 population.

According to data from the COVID Tracking Project, the U.S. has averaged just over 130,000 new reported COVID-19 positives per day over the past week, for a rate of 39.2 new positives per 100,000.

What everybody is looking at is impact on hospital capacity. There, also, Virginia is doing well, with hospitals statewide at 81.0 percent of capacity today, according to the Virginia Department of Health, and COVID-19 patients accounting for 7.9 percent of all beds currently in use.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association dashboard reports today that ICUs are at 82 percent of current capacity, but factoring in surge capacity, we’d be at 53 percent – with the 258 COVID-19 patients currently in ICUs representing 10.1 percent of the overall capacity.

“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,” Northam said.

The restrictions

  • Reduction in public and private gatherings: All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes outdoor and indoor settings.
  • Expansion of mask mandate: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This expands the current mask mandate, which has been in place in Virginia since May 29 and requires all individuals aged 10 and over to wear face coverings in indoor public settings.
  • Strengthened enforcement within essential retail businesses: All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. While certain essential retail businesses have been required to adhere to these regulations as a best practice, violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor.
  • On-site alcohol curfew: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is 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. Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, however, under current restrictions, individuals that choose to consume alcohol prior to 10 p.m. must be served as in a restaurant and remain seated at tables six feet apart.

Story by Chris Graham