VIRGINIA, USA — With vaccine distribution making good progress in Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam announced the rollback of more COVID-19 restrictions in the Commonwealth -- specifically for entertainment venues and social gatherings.
Starting May 15, indoor and outdoor venues can open their doors to more people and social gathering limits will increase. Virginia will continue its mandate mask-wearing and social distancing, but a few key changes in the sixth amended Executive Order 72 will include the following:
- Social gathering caps will increase to 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors. Currently, only 50 people are allowed indoors and 100 people outdoors for gatherings.
- Indoor entertainment venues will now operate at 50% capacity with a numeric cap of 1,000 people. Outdoor venues will follow suit, operating at 50% capacity, with no specific cap.
- Indoor and outdoor recreational sporting events are also allowed to operate at 50% capacity. Indoor events can allow 250 spectators and outdoor events can have 1,000 people, but they must operate with either the 50% cap or the numeric cap, whichever is fewer.
- In terms of alcohol sales, restaurants across the Commonwealth can start selling liquor after midnight -- as dining rooms don't have to close between midnight and 5 a.m.
In a video message released by the governor on Wednesday, he gave the green light to restaurants to open their bar seating back up. However, there must be six feet of space between their customers.
“I’m optimistic that we will be able to take more steps in June. We are working to significantly ramp up vaccinations even further and aim to reduce capacity limits in June, hopefully, all the way," Northam said in a release to WUSA9. "But some things need to continue—we all need to keep wearing masks, social distancing, and encouraging each other to get a shot. It’s how we take care of one another.”
Local music venues like Jammin Java in Vienna said they are excited to see capacity restrictions be eased back in the Commonwealth.
"There's no better feeling than having it come back," Jammin Java's Operations Director Lana Mahmoud told WUSA9. "Truly, as cheesy as it is, you don't know what you have until it's gone."
She added she feels Jammin Java can safely hold bigger concerts indoors and outdoors in the future under Governor Northam's new guidelines.
"We're working to a new normal and I think we're all ready to see what the future holds," Mahmoud said.
To view the governor's message on the newest updates in Virginia, click the video below:
Northam's announcement comes as vaccinations continue to rise in the Commonwealth and more than half of all adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, all Virginians age 16 and older are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s good news that half of all adults in Virginia have gotten a shot so far,” Northam said in a release to WUSA9. “...we have been able to begin easing some mitigation measures. We took a few more targeted steps this week, and we will do more next month.”
The full text of Sixth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine can be found on the governor's website.
Virginia has now administered more than 5.5 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and is currently giving almost 77,000 shots per day. Over 3.5 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, more than half of all adults in Virginia and more than 40% of the total population, according to the governor's office.