By Carol Vaughn —
Gov. Ralph Northam announced new restrictions Thursday as COVID-19 case numbers continue to rise, including a stay-at-home order between midnight and 5 a.m. unless traveling to and from work, seeking medical attention, or under certain other conditions.
Restrictions take effect Monday 12:01 a.m. and remain in effect until Jan. 31.
Northam also announced a requirement for universal mask wearing for anyone over age five indoors when around others outside their household — and also outdoors if a 6-foot distance can not be maintained.
Employees who can telework are strongly encouraged to do so.
Social gatherings are limited to no more than 10.
“When groups are smaller, it spreads less,” Northam said.
“Virginia has significant limits on restaurants already” and those remain in place, he said, noting everyone who works in a restaurant, including kitchen workers, now must wear a mask.
Enforcement of rules by the ABC, health department, and other state agencies will be stepped up, Northam said.
While the majority of businesses are doing the right thing, with compliance rates of around 90%, 181 letters of violation have been issued to date, mainly for violations of the mask requirement, he said.
Northam noted the Petersburg health district obtained a misdemeanor warrant and suspended the operating permit of a restaurant because of violations and several other restaurants, including in Richmond, also have lost their permits.
School closing decisions will continue to be made at the local level.
Spectators at sporting events are limited to 25 per field for indoor sports and two guests per player for outdoor sports.
Northam spoke about faith communities, saying, “This is a holy time. … This year we need to think about what is truly the most important thing — is it the worship or the building?”
Northam asked faith leaders to set an example, but said limits on gatherings will not be enforced in places of worship after court rulings.
The Virginia Department of Health reported 271,043 cases of COVID-19 statewide since the pandemic began, including 3,915 new cases Thursday. Deaths from the virus in Virginia stand at 4,335, an increase of 54 Thursday.
The 7-day positivity rate for PCR tests is 11.1%, up from 6.5% a month ago.
The rate for the Eastern Shore is 10.2%.
Ten new cases and no new hospitalizations or deaths were reported in Accomack County Thursday. In Northampton, two new cases, one hospitalization, and no new deaths were reported.
Since the pandemic began, 52 have died and 162 have been hospitalized on the Shore. Accomack has had 1,448 cases and Northampton has had 362.
The complete text of executive order 72 may be viewed at https://www.governor.virginia.gov/media/governorvirginiagov/executive-actions/EO-72-and-Order-of-Public-Health-Emergency-Nine-Common-Sense-Surge-Restrictions-Certain-Temporary-Restrictions-Due-to-Novel-Coronavirus-(COVID-19).pdf