Virginia will ease restrictions on gatherings, venues, restaurants on May 15


RICHMOND, Va. (WFXR) — Gov. Ralph Northam announced expanded capacity limits for sporting events, entertainment venues, and social gatherings beginning May 15. The Commonwealth will also loosen restrictions for restaurants by allowing alcohol sales past midnight again.

Northam made the announcement in a new video message on Thursday, April 22.

“It’s good news that half of all adults in Virginia have gotten a shot so far,” Northam said. “Vaccination numbers are up, and our COVID-19 case numbers are substantially lower than they were earlier this year. So, 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.”

As of Thursday, the Virginia Department of Health is reporting that 26.3% of Virginia’s population is fully vaccinated; 41.1% has received at least one dose of the vaccine; and 76,893 shots of the vaccine, on average, are going into arms each day.

However, officials say mask-wearing and social distancing will still be mandated in Virginia, even as commercial restrictions are further eased.

The governor’s office shared a list of the changes to restrictions going into effect on May 15:

  • Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 100 people for indoor settings and 250 people for outdoor settings. Social gatherings are currently limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
  • Entertainment venues: Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people, up from 30 percent capacity or 500 people. Outdoor venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity—up from 30 percent—with no specific cap on the number of attendees.
  • Recreational sporting events: The number of spectators allowed at indoor recreational sporting events will increase from 100 to 250 spectators or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less. Outdoor recreational sporting events will increase from 500 to 1,000 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less.
  • Alcohol sales: Restaurants may return to selling alcohol after midnight. In addition, dining room closures will no longer be required between midnight and 5 a.m.

“I’m optimistic that we will be able to take more steps in June,” said Northam. “We are working to significantly ramp up vaccinations even further and aim to reduce capacity limits in June, hopefully all the way. 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.”

You can read the full text of the sixth amended Executive Order 72 and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine here. Updated guidelines for specific sectors can be found by following this link

Earlier this week, Northam made minor changes to the existing mitigation measures, including increased accommodations for cross-country events, school-based fine arts performances, and expanded access to bar seating in restaurants with strict social distancing.

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