Northam: Virginia on Track to See COVID-19 Restrictions Lifted on June 15th

May 6, 2021

Some changes related to pandemic restrictions in Virginia are on the horizon.

Governor Ralph Northam has provided COVID-19 updates to the public for more than 14 months now. 

And he began his Thursday press conference on a hopeful note.

“We have good news to share with all of you today…”

Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

That good news was that many of the restrictions he put in place to prevent spread of the virus could be lifted next month. 

“We plan to lift our mitigation measures, capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements on June the 15th," Northam said. "We’ll continue to evaluate our mask guidance.” 

The state’s mask mandate – along with many other restrictions related to the pandemic – were enacted under Northam’s state of emergency declaration. 

And under state code, that order must end on June 30th. At that point, a long-standing state law preventing mask wearing in public would go back into effect. 

Rita Davis – the governor’s lead legal counsel – says Northam has options, however. 

“So, the governor will consider whether or not if under the CDC guidance and I guess the advice from the Virginia Department of Health, even folks who want to voluntarily wear a mask will need to do so legally," said Jones. "Which may mean that the declaration may have to be reissued or extended so that it will apply after June 30th.” 

Virginia's virus numbers are the best they've been in months. Hospitalizations and case counts are at their lowest levels since October.

Governor Northam also talked about the Pfizer vaccine potentially being approved for children as young as 12 as soon as next week.

He said Virginia is ready to handle those vaccinations. But, he's currently not thinking about making them mandatory. That would require a lot of input from various entities – including the Centers for Disease Control.

“And, then finally, the legislature would actually have to act on that," the governor said. "And so, one, I don’t see that happening in the near future and the process would certainly take time.”

Capacity limits – including those on school events – would be included with those lifted on June 15th.

**Editor's Note: A previous version of this story included the wrong name for the governor's lead legal counsel. The error has since been corrected.

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