Northam: Life may not return to normal soon
Governor extends social gatherings ban, restaurant restrictions and mandatory closures of some businesses until May 8.
As Virginia remains under a stay-at-home order until June 10, Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday that even as restrictions ease, it’s not likely that life will return to the way it was until there is a vaccination or treatment for COVID-19.
“Together we will figure out how to build a new normal,” Northam said during his coronavirus news briefing. “Right now, that new normal will probably look like covering your face, spending more time at home, teleworking if you can, continuing to use social distancing and staying away from large gatherings. … All of these things will continue, I think, as part of the way our society acts on a day-to-day basis.”
Northam is extending his March 24 executive order banning gatherings of 10 people or more; restricting restaurants to offering takeout and delivery; and closing recreation, entertainment and personal care businesses such as gyms, movie theaters and hair salons until May 8, he said, and the state will continue to monitor and assess the need for the order. The governor also announced Wednesday that the state is receiving $70 million from the federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act to provide child care options during the pandemic, particularly for essential workers.
“I know this has been a frustrating time for us — people are out of work, businesses are closed. Our entire sense of normal life is out the window,” Northam said. “I want everyone to know that these sacrifices that you have made are necessary and they are helping. They are slowing the spread [and] they are giving us time to plan and to prepare.”
The governor said that his administration has been discussing with peers in Maryland, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., about what lifting protections might look like. The Virginia business community will also be included in those conversations, he added, so that consumers will feel “safe and comfortable” patronizing businesses. “The way forward will be deliberate and it will be careful but we will move forward and we will do this together,” Northam said.
“Virginia started off strong before this virus and we will continue to be strong moving forward. This is a great state to do business. …. Prior to COVID-19, our economy was literally on fire,” the governor said, noting that state General Fund revenues were 10.8% higher in March than during the same period in 2019. “But that has changed, unfortunately, and we must work together to rebound. … This is going to be a business- and consumer-driven recovery.”