Businesses Say Northam's Order Isn't Helping Businesses Say Northam's Order Isn't Helping

Governor Northam’s order set March 1 at midnight as the beginning for these new rules.

RICHMOND-At midnight this morning, Virginia’s COVID-19 restrictions changed. More people can attend outdoor events, stay out for a drink and you can start planning for summer camp. There’s also no more curfew, thanks to Gov. Ralph Northam’s order. 

If you’re wondering what curfew, that’s probably because it was active during a time most people were asleep. The order ran from midnight to 5 a.m., stating that anyone traveling for reasons other than work or necessity would be in violation. That expired at midnight. However, it would be hard to find somewhere to go. All restaurants, bars and cafes still have to close between midnight and 5 a.m. It’s a slight improvement. Before this morning, bars had to close at 10 p.m. 

The big lift involves outdoor events. Starting today, any outdoor venue can have up to 1,000 people, or 30% capacity, whichever is less. That includes amusement parks like Busch Gardens, which wasted no time over the weekend announcing their plans for a limited capacity St. Patrick’s Day celebration. The Williamsburg-based operation will open the doors on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through March 28. Now here’s the catch. Due to the capacity restrictions, you have to reserve space. You can’t just walk up and buy tickets. 

Some people have emailed Dogwood over the last few days, asking about indoor facilities. With NCAA basketball heading towards March Madness, what are the chances we’ll be able to see games in person? The answer is slim to none. All indoor venues are still restricted to a maximum of 250 people. That includes all gyms, indoor arenas and concert halls. It looks like most everyone will be watching the NCAA on tv again this year. 

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There Are Some Rules Involved

The outdoor change is a big step up from the previous rules, which only allowed two guests per player for outdoor sports. It covers the six-game high school football season and all other fall sports that were moved due to the pandemic, as well as other outdoor events. You do have to follow some guidelines, however. Under the rule, spectators have to wear face masks at all times and stay 10 feet away from other groups.

So what else changes? Personal outdoor gathering limits. Now up to 25 people can get together, at long as they’re outdoors. If you want to invite people over to watch something inside, it’s still restricted to 10 people or less. 

Some parents out there have been waiting for the day they could send their kids out of the house. In addition to school, as most districts return to in-person learning over the next two weeks, summer camp now has a start date. Overnight summer camps in Virginia can open beginning on May 1. With that in mind, parents can start booking summer camp plans beginning today. 

Northam’s office said these current restrictions will be in place for at least a month.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at brian@couriernewsroom.com.