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Amid Coronavirus Surge, Northam Issues New Restrictions

Northam with mask
Gov. Ralph Northam announced new measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in a video posted to his YouTube channel Friday. (Screenshot from video)

With COVID-19 cases on the rise in Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam announced new restrictions to slow the spread of the virus on Friday.

Under the new measures, public and private social gatherings will be limited to 25 people, a tenth of the 250 previously allowed.

Restaurants across the state will now have to close at midnight, with alcohol sales ending at 10 p.m., and essential retail businesses will face stronger enforcement of state guidelines. Violations will be punishable as class one misdemeanors through the health department. 

Additionally, the governor has expanded his mask mandate. Previously, everyone 10 and older had to wear a mask in indoor settings. The policy will now include children 5 to 9 years of age.

The new restrictions will take effect starting Sunday, November 15 at midnight.

In a video message, Northam expressed sympathy with Virginians growing tired of the pandemic and the resulting restrictions, but emphasized the importance of making good decisions. 

“I know everyone is tired of the pandemic and tired of restrictions on our lives,” he said. “But for the sake of your family, your neighbors, your coworkers, our healthcare providers and even the person you pass in the grocery store, please keep following the guidelines.”

Northam repeated the importance of maintaining social distancing and mask wearing as the holiday season approaches, something Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney also stressed this week.

The new restrictions come as Virginia struggles with its worst bout of the virus, with 1,500 cases of COVID-19 reported per day, up from a statewide peak of 1,200 in May.

During a Tuesday press conference, Northam brushed off a question from David McGee at the Bristol Herald Courier about increased restrictions, saying the state was, “focusing on how to mitigate the increase in numbers by the measures we’ve already talked about.”

Editor's note: This story was updated with additional information.

Connor Scribner is a former VPM News assistant editor.
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