City of Radford bans gatherings of more than 50 people through end of August

City leaders concerned about possible spike in COVID-19 cases with students returning to Radford University

RADFORD, VA. – For the month of August, most gatherings of more than 50 people are banned in the city of Radford, starting Thursday.

Radford City Council approved some COVID-19 restrictions Tuesday night, while tabling a number of others.

Radford Mayor David Horton said they’re taking action now to try to get ahead of a possible outbreak with Radford University students returning to town.

The council has mulled the idea for the last week and settled on a plan to enact local restrictions more stringent than state regulations.

“We were able to come up with a compromise that our entire council was able to support that moved us to a place where we are giving our officers a tool to help address that issue,” Horton said.

The original proposal called for cutting off bars at 10 p.m., which was dropped following Friday’s initial proposal of the restrictions, as were criminal penalties in favor of civil fines.

Stricter mask requirements survived that first round of cuts, but was tabled Tuesday after those on council could not agree on it and some in the community voiced their disapproval.

“I think that our businesses have been hurt enough through this that frankly if I’m mandated to wear something in the city of Radford when I walk through the door, I’ll go across the bridge,” one resident said.

The proposal also called for limiting restaurant capacity to 50%, but that was also dropped for the time being. Councilman Forrest Hite said he would not vote for the ordinance when it included that language.

“Why are we anticipating restaurants who are doing well to suddenly start doing poorly, and why do we need to hold a threat over their head for them to continue doing what they’re already doing?” Hite said.

By the end of it, all that council had left was limiting most gatherings to 50 people, and civil fines for non-compliance.

But Horton said council can revisit those other items, which it will do with the mask ordinance on Monday, and that this is progress.

“Some will say it’s not far enough, some will say it’s too far, the challenge we’ve got in government is to find some way to get something done to at least provide some protections to our citizens, to our community and I think we were able to accomplish that,” Horton said.

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