Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced new statewide restrictions, in an effort to slow rising COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. These are the restrictions that effect our clients:
- Reduction in public and private gatherings: All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals (down from the current cap of 250 people – to includes outdoor and indoor settings).
- Expansion of mask mandate: All Virginians, aged five and over are required to wear face coverings, in indoor public spaces (the current mask mandate, which has been in place in Virginia since May 29, requires all individuals aged 10 and over to wear face coverings).
- Strengthened enforcement within essential retail businesses: All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. While certain essential retail businesses have been required to adhere to these regulations as a best practice, violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health (as a Class One misdemeanor).
- On-site alcohol curfew: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. And all restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight but can serve ToGo food during the hours of midnight – 5am. It is important to note that Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, however, under current restrictions, individuals that choose to consume alcohol prior to 10pm must be served, as in a restaurant, and remain seated at tables six feet apart.
In a nutshell: the state’s cap on gatherings will be reduced from 250 people to 25, the state’s mask requirement will be applied to younger children, the number of spectators allowed at athletic events will be reduced, and alcohol sales will be prohibited at dining and drinking establishments after 10 p.m.. These new restrictions will take effect Sunday, November 15, 2020, at midnight.
“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, who is a physician, said in the release.
The gathering ban will apply to events such as weddings, but won’t impact restaurant capacity, said Northam’s spokeswoman, Alena Yarmosky. Restaurants were already subject to capacity limits due to requirements that patrons remain socially distanced.
Collectively, Virginia is faring better than many other states. There were 233 new cases per 100,000 people in Virginia over the past two weeks, which ranks 43rd in the country for new cases per capita, according to an Associated Press analysis of data from the COVID Tracking Project.
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*Disclaimer: This article and its contents represent the opinions of the author only and is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice. ABC Consulting is a private consulting firm, in no way do we represent the VA ABC Authority. You should not act upon any such information without seeking qualified professional advice, based upon your situation.