Capability limits expanded for outside sports activities and leisure venues in Virginia

RICHMOND, Virginia (WDBJ / Governor’s Office Release) – As Virginia hospital stays and COVID-19 infection rates continue to decline, and vaccinations rise, Governor Northam has announced that certain outdoor sports and entertainment venues may open at higher capacity starting Monday , 1st March. He amended Executive Order Seventy-Two with the next steps of the Forward Virginia plan to “safely and gradually relax public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of the virus.”

“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of all Virginians, hospitalization and positivity rates across the Commonwealth are lower than they have been in nearly three months,” said Governor Northam. “As key health data show encouraging trends and we continue to step up our vaccination efforts, we can begin to gradually resume certain recreational activities and further open up sectors of our economy. Even as we take steps to safely simplify public health guidelines, we must all remain vigilant so we can keep our progress. The more we stay at home, mask ourselves and practice social distancing, the more lives we will save from this dangerous virus. “

The governor said some changes will be made to COVID-related restrictions given the ongoing trends. Starting March 1, alcohol sales will be allowed until midnight instead of 10 p.m. and the curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. will be lifted.

Northam is also easing public health restrictions by increasing capacity limits outdoors. He says the risk of airborne COVID-19 transmission is lower. The main changes include:

· Social Gatherings: The maximum number of people allowed to attend a social gathering increases from 10 to 25 people for outdoor settings, while staying at 10 people for indoor settings.

Entertainment venues: Outdoor entertainment and public entertainment venues can accommodate up to 1,000 people or 30 percent capacity, whichever is lower. If current trends continue, these venues could potentially be 30 percent busy with no limit on the number of people who can attend from April. Indoor entertainment and public places of amusement must continue to operate with a capacity of 30 percent and an upper limit of 250 people. All entertainment venues were previously limited to a maximum of 250 people.

· Restaurants: The sale, consumption and possession of alcohol on site are permitted until midnight, extended from 10 p.m. All restaurants, restaurants, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries and tasting rooms must still be closed between midnight and 5:00 a.m.

· Overnight summer camps: From May 1st, overnight summer camps can be opened with strict mitigation measures. Registration can now begin.

The new guidelines will be in place for at least a month, and harm reduction measures could be further relaxed, Northam says, as key health data continue to improve. The current guidelines for retail stores, fitness and exercise, major entertainment venues, and personal care services remain in place. People are urged to continue teleworking if possible.

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