Non-essential businesses that are unable to maintain proper social distancing must close, according to Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
In addition, gatherings of more than 10 people are now banned for the next 30 days, and school buildings are closed for the remainder of this academic year.
Virginia officials have posted guidance for businesses here. Briefly:
- Recreational and entertainment businesses must close.
- Restaurants and other food services may remain open only for take-out or delivery services.
- Nonessential retail stores that are unable to maintain adequate social distancing must also close. Retailers can not have more than 10 people on site at a time.
These restrictions will remain in place for at least 30 days.
The construction industry is largely unaffected, and construction retail stores like Home Depot and Lowe's can stay open as they are considered essential. Churches are strongly encouraged to maintain social distancing but are not ordered to close at this time.
Grocery stores are considered essential services, and liquor stores will stay open.
"You will still be able to buy food and necessary supplies for your family," Gov. Northam said.
Cases of the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, have increased substantially in Virginia. The total cases in Virginia are now more than 250 with six deaths.
"Social distancing is the only path forward," Gov. Northam said. "Our priority is to save lives. We have a health crisis and we have an economic crisis, the sooner we can get this health crisis under control, the sooner our economy can recover."
"This will require all of us to live differently," Gov. Northam said.
In Northern Virginia, Fairfax County and Arlington County lead in COVID-19 positive test results. Arlington County has 34 cases, and Fairfax County has 43. The City of Alexandria has just six, according to data from the Virginia Dept. of Health.Across the river in Maryland, today Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday morning shut down all non-essential businesses but came just short of a "stay at home" or "shelter in place" order. The closure of non-essential businesses starts at 5 p.m. Businesses qualified as essential are those defined by the Dept. of Homeland Security — primarily food, medicine, telecommunications, energy, water, law enforcement and public works. (Here's a list of what can stay open in Maryland.)
Virginia Education Changes
Virginia schools were already closed for 2 weeks (in Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax County, schools closed through the end of Spring Break, which ends April 13). School divisions will be able to make a final call on how students will learn for the remainder of this year. But officially, school buildings and facilities are closed for the rest of this academic year.
Much to the delight of students, officials in Virginia are working toward canceling the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs) — the tests that measure student progression starting in 3rd grade. The tests were supposed to start later this spring, but the closure of schools statewide for at least two weeks meant the loss of critical test preparation time.