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Gov. Northam orders 10 person cap on gatherings

In a press conference, Gov. Northam updated Virginians on the spread of COVID-19 in the state. He ordered a ban on businesses serving more than 10 people at a time.

RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam held a press conference Tuesday morning where he recommended limiting gatherings to 10 people or less, in accordance with President Donald Trump's most recent coronavirus guidelines.

By Tuesday night, Northam had sent out the 10-person limit as an executive order.

The governor also ordered that the state's Department of Motor Vehicle offices close to the public. He said many services would still be available online.

Northam said Virginia had 67 cases of coronavirus by Tuesday. It was an increase of seven new cases from Monday. 

RELATED: Coronavirus in Virginia | Here are the cases of COVID-19 in the state.

Virginia Health Commissioner Norman Oliver said one of the new cases was affecting a person who lived in a long-term care facility.

Although he didn't give an order for it, Northam urged people aged 65 and older to self-quarantine to protect themselves.

"Every single one of us has a personal responsibility in this situation," he said.

He called for Virginians to check on their elderly neighbors and friends, and to avoid St. Patrick's Day parties Tuesday night.

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"We understand that the 10-person standard will have an impact on a number of businesses across our society," Northam said. "It means that all restaurants, malls, fitness centers and theaters must significantly reduce their capacity in compliance with this 10-person standard, or close."

Northam encouraged restaurants to continue offering takeout, but called for Virginians to commit to social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.

He said that he knew following the standard would impact Virginia workers, but unemployment funds were available through the Virginia Employment Commission.

The governor waived the one-week waiting period for that commission, so workers would be able to receive benefits immediately after their applications were approved.

"Public health relies on every individual making responsible decisions," Northam said. "We can and will get through this difficult time, but we must work together to do so."

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