Virginia tightened its COVID-19 guidelines effective midnight on Sunday, November 15.

“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” Governor Ralph Northam said.

Virginia’s infection rates are on an upward trend, with an average of 1,500 newly-reported COVID-19 cases per day, up from a statewide peak of about 1,200 in May. Hospitalizations have jumped more than 35 percent in the last four weeks, and more people are dying. 

“This is putting a strain on our medical facilities and frontline workers. And it’s raising the danger levels for every Virginian,” said Northam.

Therefore, he rolled out a plan to mitigate the spread that includes requiring everyone aged five and over to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This includes in schools and in childcare facilities. 

“Face coverings are one of the best tools we have to fight COVID-19,” said the governor.

Virginia slashed the number of people allowed at public and private gatherings from 250 to 25. This limit applies regardless whether the event is indoors or outdoors.

All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and home improvement stores are required to adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. 

Essential businesses that violate that order can now be charged with a class one misdemeanor. 

And Virginia now prohibits on-site alcohol sales, consumption, and possession after 10 p.m. Plus, restaurant and other food and beverage establishments must close by midnight.

Northam said it’s known that the virus is spreading at places such as restaurants and dinner parties where people take off their masks.

 “Everyone is tired of this pandemic and restrictions on our lives. I’m tired, and I know you are tired too. But as we saw earlier this year, these mitigation measures work. I am confident that we can come together as one Commonwealth to get this virus under control and save lives,” said Northam.

“We must act as one Commonwealth to get this virus under control. Virginia is not an island,” he added.