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Governor Issues Stay-At-Home Order to Slow Coronavirus

Gov. Ralph Northam is ordering Virginians to stay home. It's his strongest action yet to contain the growing coronavirus pandemic.

The stay-at-home order will take effective immediately on Monday, and will be in place until June 10th, unless the governor amends or rescinds the order. It was issued during Northam's regular briefing, during which he also said Virginia currently has 1,020 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 25 deaths.

“We are at the beginning period of sacrifice,” Northam said. “This is an unprecedented and difficult time and it will be hard for people. I understand that, but I have faith in you as Virginians. We need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly.”

Residents are ordered to stay indoors except to carry out limited activities, like picking up groceries or getting medical attention. Essential services such as grocery stores, hospitals, gas stations and banks will remain open. 

People will also be able to go outside to exercise, but still need to follow the strict social distancing guidelines. All public beaches will close, except for exercising and fishing. Northam said golf courses can stay open, but the club houses and indoor facilities will need to be closed to visitors. Per the order, private campgrounds will be closed to short-term overnight visitors starting April 1 at 11:59 p.m. 

Northam’s announcement comes hours after Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also issued a stay-at-home order. Starting Monday, North Carolinians are being asked to stay at home for thirty days, by order of Gov. Roy Cooper. 

On Friday, Northam had questioned the necessity of issuing a stay-at-home order, arguing that his public statements so far carried the same message.

“We’re talking semantics here,” Northam said last week. “If you look at whether this is a shelter-at-home, whether it’s a shutdown, whether it’s a lockdown, however you want to describe it, all states are giving the same directions, and that is to stay at home.”

Northam said Monday that despite seeing many Virginians comply with social distancing recommendations, he also saw too many people gathering on beaches, leading to his change of mind on issuing an executive order.

“You are being very, very selfish because you are putting all of us, especially our healthcare providers, at risk,” Northam told reporters. “This has been a suggestion to all Virginians. Today, it’s an order.”

*Sara McCloskey, Alan Rodriguez Espinoza, and Whittney Evans contributed to this report.

VPM News is the staff byline for articles and podcasts written and produced by multiple reporters and editors.
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