VA tightens COVID restrictions & FCPS halts return plan

Image+via+WHSV3

Image via WHSV3

Helen Ehrlich, Editor-In-Chief

Virginia’s Governor Northam has signed two new executive orders regarding COVID-precautions, after a serious rise in COVID-19 cases across the commonwealth Virginia has 1,500 new COVID-19 cases per day, which is 300 more than the previous peak from May. In the last four weeks, Virginia has seen a 35% hospitalization increase.

 

Fairfax County’s in-person pilot programs have been stopped. This applies to preschool, kindergarten and special education students who were scheduled to return. Students will remain online until November 30, at the earliest.

 

Outdoor gatherings may have a maximum of 25 patrons, which is significantly lower than the 250 requirement. Now bars must close by midnight, no alcohol may be served or consumed in bars after 10 PM, establishments may only reach 50% occupancy and there is a maximum of 50 people dining at one time. Children ages five and up must now wear a mask (changed from 10-years-old). Infractions are punishable by law.

 

This does not impact religious services, or those living in the same residence. There are also exceptions, as the order reads,  “Nothing in the Order shall limit: (i) the provision of health care or medical services; (ii) access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; (iii) the operations of the media; (iv) law enforcement agencies; or (v) the operation of government.”

 

The new restrictions have faced backlash from some Republicans. “Incredibly disappointing to see the Governor announce drastic new and confusing COVID restrictions on his fellow Virginians late on a Friday afternoon, by video, and without taking questions. That is not how you govern,” tweeted Delegate Todd Gilbert. Mr. Gilbert represents Virginia’s 15th District, which is one of Virginia’s most Southern districts, including areas like Charlotte and Pittsylvania. This region, like most of Virginia, has seen serious flares in cases. 

 

Virginia implemented a statewide mask mandate when inside businesses, but only strongly suggests residents wear masks otherwise. Virginia does not have any travel mandates at this time, despite landing on the mandatory quarantine list of multiple states. Residents traveling into DC for a prolonged period of time must be tested less than 72 hours beforehand. People from Virginia or Maryland heading into the District for essential work or staying under 24 hours do not have to be tested.

 

The entire DC, Virginia, Maryland (DMV) region has increased their precautionary measures. Maryland’s Governor Hogan signed an executive order to limit store and restaurant hours after Maryland hit a record high number of cases. DC has also seen a spike in cases, and health officials have grown even more concerned after a weekend of national protestors flooding the District.

 

Virginia residents have been urged to download the contact tracing app (read more here).