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Northam: Some COVID-19 Restrictions to Be Relaxed Monday

AP Photo / Steve Helber

The number of new COVID-19 infections is trending down, and vaccination numbers are going up. And, Governor Ralph Northam says that’s cause to relax some safety restrictions.

Beginning Monday, restrictions set in place late last year will be relaxed. A modified stay-at-home order will be lifted and alcohol sales will be permitted until midnight. 

Limits on how many people can attend outdoor events will also be relaxed. 

“Outdoor social gatherings can have up to 25 people, up from the current 10," Northam said. "At outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues, the limit will move from 250 people to 30% with a cap of 1,000 people.” 

During a news conference Wednesday, the governor said those limits could be relaxed even further by April if current trends continue.

And while Northam said it is a hopeful time, Virginians need to remain vigilant. 

“We do not want to risk our progress by easing restrictions too quickly; not now when more and more Virginians are getting the protection of vaccines," the governor said. "And not when variants that can infect more people more quickly are spreading.” 

The governor also announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency has already provided Virginia some funding for mass vaccination events once more doses become available. That could happen soon with increased shipments from the federal government and potentially a third vaccine coming online as soon as next week.

More Pharmacies Set to Begin COVID-19 Vaccinations in Virginia

Another pharmacy – Walgreens – is set to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines in Virginia Thursday. CVS is already doing that, and Governor Northam says more companies will join the effort soon.

Walmart is one of those companies. They're planning to set up vaccination events outside stores once they start administering shots as part of a federal program. Northam said Wednesday that will allow them to vaccinate several hundred Virginians at each site per day.

There have been some logistical issues in making sure people registered with the state for a shot aren’t also registered with a pharmacy.  

The governor says Virginia’s new call center has been working to help remedy that problem.

“We expect to expand this effort next week and beyond with the call center setting up appointments for other pharmacies using the VDH pre-registration database,” he said.

Northam says pharmacy companies are also working with the state to merge registration lists as much as possible. 

Nearly a half-million Virginians have signed up for a shot through the state’s online pre-registration system since it launched last week.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Nick Gilmore is a meteorologist, news producer and reporter/anchor for RADIO IQ.