RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today outlined new actions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the Hampton Roads region, which has seen a recent increase in new cases, hospitalizations, and positive tests. The new restrictions will apply to the Cities of Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Williamsburg, Newport News, Poquoson, James City County, and York County.
Beginning at midnight on Friday, July 31, restrictions will prohibit the on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight. Indoor dining in these establishments will be limited to 50 percent capacity. Public and private in-person gatherings over 50 people will be prohibited, down from a previous cap of 250 people.
“While the health metrics remain largely stable in four out of Virginia’s five health regions, I am concerned about the recent increase in cases in Hampton Roads,” said Governor Northam. “These decisions are necessary to protect public health and prevent additional virus outbreaks—I will not hesitate to do what it takes to keep Virginians safe.”
Earlier today, Governor Northam met with Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Governor Northam personally requested federal assistance to increase testing capacity and reduce test turnaround times. Dr. Birx also validated Governor Northam’s mitigation measures for the region, which are in line with her proposed recommendations to reduce indoor dining, close bars, restrict social gatherings, and increase the use of facial coverings.
While Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, the 10:00 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 10:00 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.
The percent of positive tests statewide has dropped to 7.3 percent, and remains well below 10 percent in the Northern, Northwest, Southwest, and Central Health regions. The Eastern region, which includes Hampton Roads, has a percent positivity rate of 10.8 percent.
The full text of Executive Order Sixty-Eight and Order of Public Health Emergency Eight is available here. Read the order in Spanish here.