Northam Issues New COVID-19 Rules As Cases Spike
To curb a statewide increase in COVID-19 cases, Gov. Ralph Northam tightened existing COVID-19 restrictions in the state.
“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," Northam said in a press release. "We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse."
Right now, Virginia has an average of 1,500 new COVID-19 cases per day. Previously, the highest daily average of positive cases was 1,200, in May.
Northam's office said hospital capacity around the state is stable, but hospitalizations have increased more than 35% in the last month.
According to the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association, there are 1,296 people currently hospitalized who have or may have COVID-19. Just over 100 of those people are on ventilators, one piece of equipment that can be critical to treating severe COVID-19 cases.
Northam issued the following rules as amendments to standing executive orders:
- All in-person gatherings, public or private, must be capped at 25 people. Previously, the limit was 250 people.
- Anyone over the age of 5 must wear a mask inside public places. This expands the standing mask mandate, which applied to anyone older than 10.
- Retail businesses that aren’t following social distancing, cleaning and face covering guidelines can now be charged with a misdemeanor offense.
- Restaurants must stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m. and close by midnight.
These rules go into effect Sunday at midnight.