The new rule replaces the current cap of 250 individuals for events held both indoors and outdoors, according to the governor’s office. Going to work or school do not count as gatherings under the order.
Establishments serving alcohol will have to close by midnight — and on-site alcohol sales and consumption will end at 10 p.m.
“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are,” Northam said in a statement. “Everyone is tired of this pandemic and restrictions on our lives. I’m tired, and I know you are tired too. But as we saw earlier this year, these mitigation measures work.”
Other new restrictions include an expanded mask mandate: Everyone over 5 must mask up in public buildings. The old rule was everyone older than 10.
Gyms are capped at 25 people or 75% of a facility’s normal occupancy. Recreational sporting events will have crowds limited to 30 percent of the venue’s operating capacity, if it has one, or 25 people.
And businesses that fail to meet health and sanitation guidelines will be subject to misdemeanor charges.
The new rules go into effect at 12 a.m. Monday and will remain in place until further notice.
Northam’s office said cases are on the rise across the state, with an average of 1,500 new cases a day, up from a previous peak of 1,200 in May. Positivity rates are above 5%.
With the latest order, Virginia joins a growing number of states re-implementing coronavirus restrictions as cases are on the rise across the country.
But there’s also hope on the horizon. President Trump on Friday announced a timetable for the expected release of Pfizer’s highly anticipated new vaccine, which the company said earlier in the week had proven 90% effective in human trials.