RICHMOND, Va. — Gov. Ralph Northam reinstated new COVID-19 restrictions statewide Friday.
The restrictions come as Virginia is seeing an increase in virus cases, especially in the southwest region of the state.
The new restrictions include:
- Reduction in public and private social gatherings (indoor and outdoor) from 250 to 25.
- The mask mandate will now include ages 5 and up. (It was previously ages 10 and up.)
- Essential retail such as grocery stores and pharmacies will now have an enforceable penalty through the Virginia Department of Health. It will be a class 1 misdemeanor. (The penalty was previously only applied to non-essential retail.)
- Alcohol sales must stop at 10 p.m. and bars and restaurants must close by midnight.
The restrictions will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Nov. 16.
The 25-person cap applies only to public and private social gatherings. It doesn't apply to employment or instructional education settings (schools).
"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 in a release.
At a briefing on Tuesday, Northam said cases were trending in the wrong direction, especially in Southwestern Virginia, where percent positivity was about 9 percent. The rest of the state was slightly above 6 percent.
Northam said cases have been rising for about a month. A few weeks ago, Virginia's positivity rate was about 5 percent.
"We are one state - one Commonwealth - and no region is an island," Northam said at the briefing.
"We all need to step up our vigilance and our precautions, especially as we head towards the Thanksgiving holiday."
Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Hampton have seen slight upticks in cases. Virginia Beach reported 100 cases on Thursday.