(Updated at 3:35 p.m.) Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is ordering residents to stay at home until June 10, except under a limited set of circumstances.
The order, announced Monday afternoon, takes effect immediately and is intended to dramatically slow the rapid spread of the COVID-19 outbreak. There are currently 86 reported coronavirus cases in Arlington County and 1,020 cases statewide, according to the Virginia Dept. Of Health.
Northam’s executive order follows a similar stay-at-home order from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) this morning, and Northam’s March 23 order closing many businesses deemed non-essential.
“The message today is very clear: stay home,” Northam said. “As you go through your day to day activities and make decisions about what’s essential and not essential, think of those healthcare providers… what they’re going through every day to take care of sick folks across the country. I ask you to do the right thing.”
“We know that social distancing and frequent handwashing will help minimize the spread of this virus,” he added.
More from a press release:
Governor Ralph Northam today issued a statewide Stay at Home order to protect the health and safety of Virginians and mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. The executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.
The order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances. Individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.
The executive order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction. Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise.
“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” said Governor Northam. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
Under Northam’s executive order, the following will still be allowed:
- Exercising outside while maintaining social distancing
- Going to grocery stores, pharmacies and other essential businesses for food, drinks and other supplies
- Seeking medical attention, social services or emergency help
- Taking care of people, animals, or visiting family
- Going to and from work, an educational institution or a house of worship
- Volunteering or providing social services
- Providing food for pickup or delivery
“Nothing in this Order shall limit: (a) the provision of health care or medical services; (b) access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; (c) the operations of the media; (d) law enforcement agencies; or (e) the operation of government,” the executive order also said.
The order makes “all public and private in-person gatherings of more than ten individuals,” including “parties, celebrations, religious, or other social events, whether they occur indoor or outdoor,” a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine up to $2,500. The operation of businesses deemed essential is excluded from prohibition, as is a gathering of family members who live in the same residence.