Loosened COVID-19 guidelines take effect in Virginia; Blacksburg restaurants react


BLACKSBURG, Va. (WFXR) — Monday marked day one under a new set of COVID-19 guidelines in Virginia; guidelines that benefit citizens and businesses for the better.

The announcement from Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday, Feb. 24 came just a little too late for Blacksburg, whose Town Council extended its emergency COVID-19 town ordinance for another 90-day period during its Feb. 9 meeting.

The guidelines do not differ too much on certain issues.

New guidelines for Virginia allow social gatherings of up to 25 people, whereas in Blacksburg, it’s 10.

For restaurants, however, it’s fairly the same, as 50-percent capacity seating is still the rule of law but now with an additional two hours to serve alcohol, capping off at midnight instead of 10 p.m.

“It’s income,” said Cameron Longmire, Manager at Sharkey’s in Blacksburg. “It’s more to put in the black, so it’s going to keep us afloat.”

Longmire says Sharkey’s prime business hours are from 6 to 10 p.m., and to have an extra two hours added is welcome news for him and his staff.

“Business has been decent, but obviously it’s not what it was before COVID,” Longmire said. “So it’s nice to be able to begin that stepping stone of moving back to pre-COVID times.

“For a lot of the bars around here, it’s going to be a big deal for them,” said Mike Harper, General Manager at Cabo Fish Taco.

A few blocks down Main Street, Cabo Fish Taco already closes at 10 p.m. from Sunday through Thursday, but Harper thinks the 10 p.m. to midnight adage will still help his restaurant.

“What we were having happen before was about eight o’clock or so this place would empty out because everyone would want to go to the bars for a couple of hours,” Harper said. “Now that it’s open later, we’re hoping we’ll stay a little busier between eight and 10, and that’ll help us out there.”

Blacksburg Town Council renewed their emergency COVID-19 town ordinance during their Feb. 9 meeting for a 90-day period.

That ordinance limits social gatherings at 10, less than Northam’s announced guidelines of 25.

That ordinance expires May 10.

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