Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Public health emergency: Police can now enforce 10-patron ban in Virginia restaurants, gyms, theaters

(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Pexels)
(WYDaily file/Courtesy of Pexels)

Gov. Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver Tuesday evening issued a public health emergency order prohibiting more than 10 patrons in restaurants, fitness centers, and theaters.

The order gives local and state law enforcement the ability to enforce this ban, which was announced by the governor earlier Tuesday, if needed.

“I hope that everyone will have the common sense to stay home tonight and in the days ahead,” Northam said. “This order will ensure that state and local officials have the tools they need to keep people safe.”

In part, the order states the commissioner “may take whatever action he deems necessary, to include ordering immediate closure of a restaurant, to control the spread of a preventable disease.”

“I am much more about carrots than I am sticks,” Northam said earlier Tuesday, before the order was issued. “We want all our restaurants to abide by the no more than 10 rule. We’re just doing everything that we can to keep everyone we can out of confined spaces.”

As of Tuesday, there are 67 positive coronavirus cases across the state. One of the positive cases was in an assisted living facility.

There are now 12 positive cases in James City County, one in York County and one in Williamsburg (city).

According to the Virginia Department of Health, the potential public health threat posed by COVID-19 is high but the individual risk is dependent upon exposure. People older than 65 and those with underlying health conditions were urged to self-quarantine due to elevated vulnerability to the disease.

President Donald Trump on Monday recommended Americans should avoid bars and restaurants as well as social gatherings of more than 10 people. He also urged all older Americans and people with underlying health conditions to stay home and everyone to “telework.”

“Together we will get through this and we will be a better Virginia,” Northam said. “Every single one of us has a personal responsibility in this situation, every one of us has a role in being part of the solution.”


John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo
John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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