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Virginia to implement modified stay-at-home order, limit social gatherings from 25 to 10

The new modified stay-at-home order will go into effect starting Dec. 14 and will last until Jan. 31, 2021.

RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia will implement a modified stay-at-home order from midnight until 5 a.m. as part of the new COVID-19 restrictions announced by Governor Ralph Northam on Thursday. 

The new modified stay-at-home order will go into effect starting Monday, Dec. 14 and will last until Jan. 31, 2021, unless rescinded or amended. Northam said the exceptions for this new modified stay-at-home order include traveling to and from work.

"They will be temporary, at least for now," Northam said. "We don't want to extend this but we may have to."

Also beginning Monday at 12:01 a.m., Virginia's limit on social gatherings will be dropped from 25 to 10 people. According to Northam, this does not impact restaurants, churches, or educational settings that already have restrictions in place.

“We already have strong public health measures in place, and with these additional steps, we can turn this around. Virginians, if you don’t have to be out, stay at home. Whenever we are around other people, we all need to wear a mask, indoors and out," Northam said. “We are going to take some measures to mitigate these numbers."

Northam is also implementing a new mask order, calling for masks to be worn outdoors if six feet of space isn’t possible.

The added restrictions for Virginia are in response to a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases reported each day. Officials said there also has been an upward trending positivity rate.

Virginia reported nearly 4,000 new coronavirus cases and 54 deaths Thursday. As of Thursday morning, Virginia’s 7-day moving average of the percent-positivity has risen to 11%, up from a low of 4.7% in early October.

“Obviously we look at the data and we know that the numbers are increasing because some people are choosing not to follow the guidelines, one of which is the most important: wearing these masks,” Northam said.

Back in November, Northam imposed new coronavirus restrictions in the Commonwealth in order to further slow the spread of the virus.

The new restrictions included:

  • Reduction in public and private social gatherings (indoor and outdoor) from 250 to 25.
  • The mask mandate will now include ages 5 and up. (It was previously ages 10 and up.)
  • Essential retail such as grocery stores and pharmacies will now have an enforceable penalty through the Virginia Department of Health. It will be a class 1 misdemeanor. (The penalty was previously only applied to nonessential retail.)
  • Alcohol sales must stop at 10 p.m. 
  • Bars and restaurants must close by 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 said during his coronavirus news briefing on Nov. 13.

In a previous video message to Virginians, Northam said the virus is spreading in indoor places like restaurants where people take off their mask, at small social gatherings like dinner parties, and when people ignore the science and think they don’t need to wear a mask inside.

“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.

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