The extra restrictions placed on restaurants, gatherings in Hampton Roads and the Peninsula that went into effect in July will stay for the time being.
That was the decision announced by Gov. Ralph Northam during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
The stricter guidelines apply in Williamsburg, James City County, York County, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Newport News and Poquoson.
“Now is the time to double down on what we know is working so we can set ourselves up for success this fall,” Northam said at a news conference in Richmond.
The July order involves restaurants, which were ordered to limit indoor dining capacity at 50 percent — restaurants were also ordered to stop serving alcohol at 10 p.m., and close down for service at midnight.
While Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, the 10 p.m. curfew for alcohol sales and consumption, in addition to the current restrictions on seating or congregating in bar areas, effectively closes bars in the region. Individuals that choose to consume alcohol prior to 10 p.m. must be served in a restaurant and remain seated at tables six feet apart. Virginia has required face coverings in indoor public settings statewide since May 29.
Private and public gatherings in those areas are limited to 50 people from the current statewide limit of 250.
Shortly after the stronger enforcement was ordered, Northam tasked health districts to conduct unannounced visits on restaurants and businesses to check if they were following the rules.
Partly, the governor cited surges in positive coronavirus cases following previous long weekend holidays – Memorial Day and July 4 – in his decision not to ease up restrictions in Hampton Roads and the Peninsula.
Labor Day holiday is this weekend.
Northam also cited Dr. Anthony Fauci’s recommendation during a call with governors this week — to keep restrictions in place.
“Large gatherings are still not a good idea,” he said, urging people to socialize outdoors, wear face coverings and stay at least 6 feet (2 meters) apart from others. He also recommended Virginians make plans to get the flu shot.
The rest of the state remains under Phase 3 reopening.
The region’s positivity rate in July spiked to around 12 percent, according to the Virginia Department of Health. It has since decreased to below 9 percent by the end of August.
Here are the latest coronavirus numbers from the Virginia Department of Health.
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