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COVID Blog: New restrictions coming in Virginia, multiple Maryland counties

Three of Maryland's largest counties will shut down indoor dining next week. In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam announces a curfew.

WASHINGTON — It’s Thursday, December 10, and new restrictions are on the way for all of Virginia and some of the largest counties in Maryland.

We’ll get to a detailed breakdown of what those changes mean for you in a minute. First, here’s a look at where the numbers stand across the DMV:

  • D.C. reported 244 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday and 4 new deaths.
  • Maryland reported 3,202 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday and 49 new deaths. It’s the third time in a week the state has reported more than 3,000 cases of the virus in a single day. The state’s seven-day average has now reached a new record high of 2,922 cases a day.
  • Virginia reported 3,915 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday and 54 new deaths – the commonwealth’s highest single-day death count in three months (and that number in September was due to a reporting backlog). Virginia is now averaging just under 3,800 new cases of the coronavirus a day – a new all-time high.

What’s changing in the DMV?

County executives in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties joined Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam this week in announcing a series of new restrictions aimed at curbing the continuing surge of coronavirus cases in their areas. See what that means for each of them below:

Virginia (statewide)

On Thursday, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced he was issuing a new executive order to go into effect Monday that will strengthen the indoor mask mandate and impose a curfew between midnight and 5 a.m., among other steps.

The move comes as the commonwealth reported nearly 4,000 new coronavirus cases and 54 new deaths on Thursday, and as Virginia continues setting record-high hospitalization numbers due to the virus.

“We are acting now so things do not get worse. We know that these mitigation measures work. We saw that earlier in the year. I am confident we can get our numbers back down, but it requires all of us to make smart choices,” Northam said.

The full list of changes Northam announced includes:

  • Virginians told to stay home between midnight and 5 a.m.
  • Masks mandatory indoors, even at 6-foot distance.
  • Social gatherings capped at 10 people.
  • Indoor school sporting events limited to 5 people per field and 2 guests per player.

Read more about Northam’s announcement here.

Loudoun County

Along with the new statewide restrictions in Virginia, Loudoun County School Superintendent Eric Williams announced Thursday that the county would return to 100% distance learning beginning on Tuesday.

The move comes a little more than a week after the county brought 7,300 students back to classrooms.

Williams said he understands that the process is “disruptive” for families and students, but that the safety and wellbeing of students and staff was his highest priority.

Read more about Loudoun County’s distance learning decision here.

Maryland (statewide)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan didn’t impose any new restrictions this week, but he did hold a press conference Thursday to announce millions of dollars in new funding the state would be providing in additional pandemic relief.

Those dollars include:

  • $25 million to finance low-income housing projects.
  • $12 million in additional funding through the Rental Housing Works program.
  • $94 million in grants and investments to treat Marylanders with diabetes, which, Hogan said, is the number one comorbidity with COVID-19 in the state.
  • $10 million for law enforcement, youth services and victim services.

The state will also be forgiving all $75 million in pandemic business loans issued earlier this year and converting them into grants.

Anne Arundel County

In Maryland, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced Thursday that he was joining several other counties across the state in eliminating indoor dining and cutting back capacity in most businesses.

The new restrictions, which go into place next Wednesday at 5 p.m., include:

  • Closing indoor dining.
  • Limiting retail, fitness center, casino, group addiction recovery and hair salon capacity to 25%.
  • Limiting religious facilities to 1/3 capacity indoors and 250 people maximum outdoors.
  • Closing theaters and live and adult entertainment venues.

Pittman also said he will be presenting a bill soon to limit the fees issued to restaurants by third-party food delivery apps like Door Dash.

Montgomery County

During a call with leaders of Maryland’s largest counties Wednesday, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said he had sent a proposed executive order to the county council that would impose restrictions similar to those Anne Arundel announced Thursday:

  • Closing indoor dining.
  • Limiting the capacity in large retail stores to one person per 200 feet, with a total limit of 150 persons.
  • Limiting non-professional indoor sports to 10 people.

“Until [vaccines] are widespread, the only control we have over the spread of this virus is our own behavior,” Elrich said. “We saw the effectiveness of the steps we took at the beginning of this pandemic, and I believe we need to revisit some of those steps.”

Read more about the proposed new restrictions in Montgomery County here.

Prince George’s County

Finally, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced Thursday that, beginning next Wednesday at 5 p.m., her county would be under the following new restrictions:

  • Indoor dining closed at bars and restaurants.
  • Outdoor dining limited to 50% capacity.
  • Casinos limited to 25% capacity.
  • Retail limited to 25% capacity.

The new restrictions in Prince George’s County are expected to last at least through January 16.

"We are headed in the wrong direction and we need to take swift action," Alsobrooks said. "These are not just numbers, but people we love."

Read more about the new restrictions going into place in Prince George’s County here.

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