Yes, Virginia, You Can Go Back to the Bar. Northam Lifts More Restrictions

By Brian Carlton

April 22, 2021

The governor amended his executive order Wednesday, allowing Virginia residents to have a drink at the bar and watch more races.

RICHMOND-If you want to sit at a bar and drink again in Virginia, you’re in luck. Gov. Ralph Northam amended his executive order on Wednesday, lifting some restrictions. But there are a few things you still can’t do. 

But first, let’s talk about the changes. All Virginia restaurants, pubs and bars can serve customers at the actual bar again. Yes, you still have to wear your mask when you’re not drinking and every group has to stay six feet apart from each other. But especially for neighborhood bars, this gives the ability to bring in more customers. That doesn’t mean you can pack the place, however. 

“Congregating areas of restaurants must be closed to patrons except for through traffic,” the order reads. “Patrons may be seated at the bar for service, provided a minimum of six feed is provided between parties.” 

Other changes come for races and marathons. To be clear, the order is talking here about physical races, not NASCAR or motocross. Under the changes, “outdoor races, such as cross country races or marathons,” can include up to 100 runners per grouping. Indoor races will be limited to groupings of 50 or less, since the runners can’t spread out as far. 

Also, more people can watch these runners compete. Races and marathons will be able to have up to 30% capacity in the stands. 

The final change will likely make some parents happy as we head into the final months of the school year. Parents, other family or members of the community can gather to watch school performances again. By this, we’re talking everything from theatrical to musical shows. When the school band plays, people can come into the gym to watch again. The same goes for the high school’s theatre group. Just remember, keep six feet between groups.

RELATED: Blacksburg Refuses to Lift COVID-19 Restrictions 

Some COVID Restrictions Stay in Virginia

And now, let’s talk about the things you still can’t do. Yes, there are still a few of those. You still can’t go out to get a drink between midnight and 5 a.m. Specifically, all restaurants, bars and cafes have to close between those hours. So while there’s no more curfew in place, you can’t actually find anywhere serving food or drink if you’re out during that time.

Also, there are still limits on outdoor venues. You can have up to 1,000 people, or 30% capacity, whichever is less. That includes places like amusement parks, baseball stadiums and NASCAR tracks.  

Finally, some parents out there have been waiting for the day they could send their kids out of the house. We’re talking for more than a few hours here. Overnight summer camps in Virginia have to wait just one more week, but they can open beginning on May 1.

Brian Carlton is Dogwood’s managing editor. You can reach him at [email protected].

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