RICHMOND, Va. – Gov. Ralph Northam announced a stay-at-home order for Virginians on Monday that takes effect immediately. This came just 72 hours after he said Friday that he would not issue a legal order, calling it “semantics.”
Northam’s executive order requires people to stay home except for limited circumstances, such as traveling to or from work, seeking medical attention, obtaining goods and services, including food, or engaging in outdoor activity.
Before today, Northam said this was a suggestion to Virginians, now, he said, it’s an order.
The order will stay in place until June 10, unless it’s amended or rescinded by a further executive order. Click here to read Executive Order 55 in its entirety.
All public and private in-person gatherings of more than ten people are prohibited. This includes parties, celebrations, religious or other social events, whether they occur indoors or outdoors.
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.
The penalty continues to be the same for gatherings of more than 10 people, according to Northam.
Restaurants are allowed to remain open as long as the dining rooms stay closed, also, non-essential retail can remain open as long as 10 or fewer patrons are in the store.
Delegate Sam Rasoul of Roanoke is thankful Northam issued the order. He’s one of a number of state politicians who’ve been calling for the order for more than a week.
“The key is that this spreads like wildfire in a crowd and so we’ve got to limit people crowding as we move forward to get ahead of it," Rasoul said.
Virginia is the 31st state to issue some sort of shelter in place order. The Governor said things became clear over the weekend when he saw people on Virginia’s beaches after he told people to stay home. Locally, we saw crowds at a Bedford church, a basketball court in Roanoke, and at the beach at Claytor Lake among other places.
“Everyone who is gathering in a crowd at any place around the state is putting themselves and others at risk,” Northam said. “What we’re seeing now is the result of how people interacted two or three weeks ago, what we will see a few weeks from now will be determined by how people behave today and in the following days.”
Rasoul is pleased with the extended length of the order, but said there’s another thing the Governor needs to do.
“The last loophole that needs to be closed is non essential office, businesses, where there are large numbers of people. So hopefully we can continue to make the progress here," Rasoul said.
According to Executive Order 55, you can leave your house for the following things:
- Obtaining food, beverages, goods, or services as permitted in Executive Order 53
- Seeking medical attention, essential social services, governmental services, assistance from law enforcement, or emergency services
- Taking care of other individuals, animals or visiting the home of a family member
- Traveling required by court order or to facilitate child custody, visitation, or child care
- Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals comply with social distancing requirements
- Traveling to and from one’s residence, place of worship or work
- Traveling to and from an educational institution
- Volunteering with organizations that provide charitable or social services
- Leaving one’s residence due to a reasonable fear for health or safety, at the direction of law enforcement, or at the direction of another government agency
Nothing in Executive Order 55 prohibits health care or medical services, essential services for low-income residents, operations of the media, law enforcement agencies or the operation of government.
There are currently 1,025 confirmed coronavirus cases in Virginia. Across the state, 28 people have died.