Eastern Va. restrictions to remain through Labor Day weekend
Governor wants to avoid repeat of Memorial Day, July 4th spikes
Gov. Ralph Northam said Tuesday during a news conference that he would not roll back COVID-19-related restrictions in Eastern Virginia prior to Labor Day.
On Friday, Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer sent a letter to Northam asking the governor to allow alcohol sales until 11 p.m. and requesting that the state eliminate the 50% occupancy limitation on indoor dining if restaurants exercise the 6-foot social distancing requirements, according to reports.
“We want our businesses to know our city is looking out for them,” Dyer told The Virginian-Pilot.
And although Northam presented data showing that case numbers in Eastern Virginia had improved since July, the region is still averaging 214 new cases per day.
“Overall, the coronavirus is moderately contained in Virginia. The case numbers remain steady and the percent positivity [rate] is not spiking, and we continue to watch this very closely,” Northam said. “We need to remain vigilant and continue monitoring the data and need to keep working especially as college and schools open, and especially ahead of a holiday weekend. We’re not going to make any changes before Labor Day.”
In May, Virginia Beach was the first beach to open its oceanfront for recreational activity ahead of the Memorial Day weekend holiday, and Northam later urged other localities to model after Virginia Beach’s social distancing measures to open beaches to visitors. But following the holiday weekend (as well as the July 4th holiday), the region saw a spike in cases, which led Northam on July 28 to place Hampton Roads localities on further restriction. According to the public health emergency order, no alcohol could be sold or consumed at restaurants after 10 p.m., and all restaurants must close by midnight and gatherings of more than 50 people would be prohibited.
“We need to think back to Memorial Day and July the 4th,” Northam said during his Tuesday press conference. “We saw surges in the week to two weeks following those holidays around the country and certainly also in Virginia. And we don’t want to repeat that as the summer draws to a close. If we can avoid these same surges after Labor Day, then we’ll have a running start as we go into the fall.
“With a holiday weekend coming up, with back to school coming in different forms and with colleges returning, now is the time to double down on what we know is working. We can set ourselves up for success this fall.”