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Northam eases COVID-19 restrictions for social gatherings, entertainment venues

Starting April 1, social gathering limits will be increased as well as capacity caps for outdoor and indoor entertainment venues.

RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Northam is loosening more COVID-19 restrictions as vaccine distribution makes headway across Virginia.

In a press briefing on Tuesday, Northam announced that starting April 1, indoor social gathering limits will increase to 50 people, while outdoor gatherings can have up to 100 people.

Capacity limits will also be raised for indoor and outdoor entertainment venues. The cap for indoor venues is at 30% capacity or 500 people, whichever is fewer. Outdoor venues can also operate at a 30% capacity limit with no numeric cap.

The number of spectators at recreational sporting events will increase to 100 people indoors and 500 outdoors.

Northam also stated that outdoor graduation events can be held this spring with a cap of 5,000 people or 30% capacity, whichever is fewer. The governor's office released preliminary guidance for graduation events last week.

The governor still urges people to adhere to health guidelines like social distancing and wearing a face mask or face covering at any gathering.

Current COVID-19 metrics are also trending positively. Virginia's percent positivity sits at 5.6%. That's a huge decrease from January when the statewide positivity rate was 17%.

Overall, there are fewer hospitalizations and ICU admissions than there were at the beginning of the year.

Some health localities have moved into or are close to reaching Phase 1c of the state's COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan.

State health officials have reached their goal of administering 50,000 shots per day around the commonwealth. Some days, the state reaches 60,000 to 70,000 vaccine doses. Northam declared that Virginia is on track to reach President Biden's goal to have the vaccine available to everyone by May 1.