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Gov. Northam relaxes restrictions as coronavirus rates fall, vaccinations rise

Alcohol sales will expand to midnight.

RICHMOND, Va. – Starting next week, outdoor events will be able to have more people in attendance.

Gov. Ralph Northam made the announcement during his press conference on Wednesday morning, citing a steady decrease in coronavirus hospitalizations and infection rates and an increase in vaccinations.

“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of all Virginians, hospitalization and positivity rates across the Commonwealth are the lowest they have been in nearly three months,” said Northam.

Below are some of the major changes, which will go into effect on March 1:

  • Social gatherings: Up to 25 people will now be allowed at outdoor social gatherings, with the number of people allowed at indoor gatherings remaining at 10
  • Entertainment venues: Outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues will now be able to have 1,000 people or operate at 30% capacity — whichever is lower. Indoor venues must still operate at 30% capacity with a cap of 250 people.
  • Dining: The sale, consumption and possession of alcohol will now be allowed until midnight, extended from 10 p.m.
  • Overnight summer camps: Starting on May 1, overnight summer camps will be allowed to open with strict restrictions in place. Registration can start now.

Emily Ford, the general manager of downtown Roanoke restaurant 202 Social House, says the extra two hours are crucial for restaurants like hers. She claims her restaurant made more than 40 percent of its daily weekend revenue after 10 p.m. before the first round of restrictions.

“It’s going to be a huge gamechanger for so many people in this industry,” Ford said. “My mantra through all of this is that it can’t last forever and eventually we have to get back to normal. This is, in our industry, a huge step for that.”

The Berglund Center had planned two concerts in its parking lot days before Northam’s announcement. Marketing manager Robert Knight said the new rules opens the door to more outdoor shows, and is a sign regular concerts could come back by the end of the year.

“Live entertainment is very important, but so is just getting back to normal life,” Knight said. “I think Governor Northam loosening the restrictions on outdoor shows gives us that beacon of hope that things are going to get back to better.”

About the Author:

Samantha Smith joined WSLS 10’s award-winning digital team as a digital content producer in July 2018.