RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has issued a stay-at-home order to help slow the spread of coronavirus. The order would still allow for people to leave their homes for certain essential activities like shopping for food and seeking medical treatment.
"Please stay home as much as possible," Northam urged Virginians. "This is a community-wide effort and I thank you for complying. This is a time of sacrifice. We need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly."
The order will remain in effect until June 10, unless amended or rescinded before then.
Northam said if people are found in the state to have left their home for a non-essential reason or in a gathering of 10 or more, they may be subject to a class one misdemeanor, which carries the possibility of jail time up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.
The executive order also directs all Virginia colleges to stop in-person classes, private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise.
“Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing," Northam said. "I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
Northam's stay-at-home order is in response to a rise in cases and many gatherings at several beaches this past weekend despite the Governor's previous urging for Virginians to stay home.
The stay-at-home order means that residents must stay in their homes and only leave if it is absolutely necessary.
To be clear: A stay-at-home order is not a full lockdown.
Virginia has implemented a list of restrictions and enforcements to ensure everyone is safe but has deemed some activities as essential. Here is a list of activities that are considered essential that you can still participate in:
- Going to the grocery store to buy groceries or supplies for you and/or your household.
- Engaging in activities that are essential for your health and safety of one's self, family, household members, pets, or livestock, including such things as seeking medical or behavioral health or emergency services, and obtaining medication or medical supplies.
- Caring for a family member, friend, pet, or livestock in another household or location, including, transporting a family member, friend, pet, or livestock animal for essential health and safety activities and to obtain necessary supplies and services.
- Traveling to and from an educational institution to receive meals or instructional materials for distance learning.
- Engaging in outdoor exercises, such as walking, hiking, running, or biking while abiding by CDC social distancing guidelines.
- Travel required by a law enforcement officer or court order.
- Traveling to and from a federal, state, or local government building for a necessary purpose.
During this order, all recent declarations still apply. Non-essential businesses, including malls, fitness centers, and theaters, remain closed. Restaurants can only allow take-out, drive-through, or delivery. All public transportation is shut down except for essential workers.
You can read the full order below:
What precautions should you take?
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are unavailable.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (From the Commonwealth of Virginia):
Can I leave my house?
Yes. However, Governor Northam is urging Virginians to limit all non-essential travel outside the home, if and when possible. If you choose to go to the park, for a walk, or exercise outside, please practice strict social distancing and keep six feet apart from others.
All public and private gatherings of more than 10 people are banned.
Are you limiting interstate travel?
No. Our roads and highways will remain open to moving essential personnel and critical supplies.
What about religious services? Can I still go to my church, synagogue, or mosque?
Virginians are strongly encouraged to seek alternative means of attending religious services, such as virtual or via “drive-through” worship. Places of worship that do conduct in-person services must limit gatherings to 10 people, to comply with the statewide 10-person ban.
Can I still exercise? Take my family to the park for fresh air? Take a walk around the block?
Yes, as long as you are maintaining a safe social distance of six feet from people who are not a part of your household. Gyms, fitness centers, indoor recreation centers, and indoor sports facilities must close.
Can I walk my dog?
Yes, you can walk your dog. Remember to distance yourself at least six feet from other pets and owners.