RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ/Governor’s Office Release) – As COVID-19 hospitalizations and infection rates continue to decline in Virginia, and as vaccinations rise, Governor Northam has announced certain outdoor sports and entertainment venues may begin to operate at increased capacity starting Monday, March 1. He amended Executive Order Seventy-Two with the next steps of the “Forward Virginia” plan to “safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of the virus.”
“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of all Virginians, hospitalization and positivity rates across the Commonwealth are the lowest they have been in nearly three months,” said Governor Northam. “As key health metrics show encouraging trends and we continue to ramp up our vaccination efforts, we can begin to gradually resume certain recreational activities and further reopen sectors of our economy. Even as we take steps to safely ease public health guidelines, we must all remain vigilant so we can maintain our progress—the more we stay home, mask up, and practice social distancing, the more lives we will save from this dangerous virus.”
The governor said with trends continuing as they are, some changes are being made to COVID-related restrictions. Beginning March 1, alcohol sales will be allowed until midnight instead of the current 10 p.m., and the midnight-to-5 a.m. curfew will be dropped.
Northam is also easing public health restrictions by ncreasing capacity limits in outdoor settings, where he says evidence indicates the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 is lower. The key changes include:
· Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase from 10 to 25 people for outdoor settings, while remaining at 10 persons for indoor settings.
· Entertainment venues: Outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be allowed to operate with up to 1,000 individuals or at 30-percent capacity, whichever is lower. If current trends continue, these venues may be allowed to operate at 30 percent capacity with no cap on the number of people permitted to attend starting in April. Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity with a cap of 250 people. All entertainment venues were previously limited to a maximum of 250 individuals.
· Dining establishments: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol will be permitted until midnight, extended from 10:00 p.m. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms still must be closed between midnight and 5:00 a.m.
· Overnight summer camps: As of May 1, overnight summer camps will be able to open with strict mitigation measures in place. Registration can begin now.
The new guidelines will be effective for at least one month and mitigation measures may be eased further, Northam says, if key health metrics continue to improve. Current guidelines for retail businesses, fitness and exercise, large amusement venues, and personal grooming services will remain in place. People are strongly encouraged to continue teleworking if possible.
Copyright 2021 WDBJ. All rights reserved.