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New Virginia COVID-19 Restrictions Begin Monday

(AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Governor Ralph Northam announced a series of increased restrictions designed to combat the increase of COVID-19 cases.

The statewide restrictions include:

  • Reducing the maximum size of gatherings from 250 to 25
  • Lowering the mandatory age for wearing a mask to 5
  • Ending alcohol sales for on-premises consumption at 10 pm and closing restaurants at midnight
  • Increasing enforcement of essential retail businesses that do not implement mask and capacity guidelines

The increased restrictions go into effect at 12:01 am Monday.  Workplaces, educational settings and religious services are not subject to the 25-person limit, but must comply with other restrictions like social distancing and wearing masks, according to the order.

"We know the virus is spreading at indoor places like restaurants where people take off their masks. It's spreading at small social gatherings like dinner parties. And it's spreading when people ignore the science," Northam said in a video announcing the restrictions Friday.  "Virginia is not an island," Northam said, "and while our cases are not rising as rapidly as some states, I do not intend to wait until they are."

COVID-19 cases have been rising in Virginia since the beginning of October.  This week, the 7-day statewide average of new cases 1,546.  That's higher than at any point during the pandemic.  The statewide positivity rate hit 6.5%, though it's in double digits in parts of southwest Virginia. 

West Virginia Issues Mask Mandate

A new mask mandate goes into effect at midnight tonight in West Virginia. Governor Jim Justice made the announcement Friday morning.  “This is not just when social distancing cannot be maintained," Justice cautioned.  "This is mandatory – wearing a face covering in all buildings at all times.”

Children under the age of nine, those with certain health conditions and people eating at restaurants are exempt.

Justice also said West Virginia schools will switch to remote instruction for seven days following Thanksgiving. That’s an attempt to cut down on any virus transmission from family gatherings over the holiday.

The state has seen around 32,000 cases of the virus since the pandemic’s onset.