Northam: State to loosen more restrictions May 15
Gatherings, events, entertainment venues to have larger attendance limits
Beginning May 15, the state will loosen more restrictions, including allowing larger social gatherings and expanded audiences for entertainment venues and sporting events, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced in a video message released Thursday. Restaurants will also be allowed to resume serving alcohol after midnight.
Northam’s amendments to his pandemic executive orders, which take effect May 15, include:
- Increased social gatherings. The maximum number of people allowed at social gatherings will increase from 100 to 250 people for outdoors settings and from 50 to 100 people for indoor settings.
- Greater attendance at entertainment venues. Indoor entertainment venues such as movie theaters will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity or 1,000 people, up from 30% capacity or 500 people. Outdoor entertainment venues such as theme parks will be allowed to operate at 50% capacity with no cap on attendees.
- More spectators allowed at recreational sporting events. Outdoor sporting events will increase from 500 to 1,000 people or 50% capacity, whichever is less. The number of spectators allowed at indoor recreational sporting events will increase from 100 to 250 spectators or 50% capacity, whichever is less.
- Restaurants can resume alcohol sales after midnight. Establishments will not be required to close dining rooms from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Earlier in the week, Northam expanded access to bar seating for the first time in more than a year and also increased attendance limitations on cross-country events and school-based fine arts performances.
“It’s good news that half of all adults in Virginia have gotten a shot so far,” Northam said. “Vaccination numbers are up, and our COVID-19 case numbers are substantially lower than they were earlier this year. So, we have been able to begin easing some mitigation measures. We took a few more targeted steps this week, and we will do more next month. I’m optimistic that we will be able to take more steps in June.
“We are working to significantly ramp up vaccinations even further and aim to reduce capacity limits in June, hopefully all the way. But some things need to continue — we all need to keep wearing masks, social distancing and encouraging each other to get a shot. It’s how we take care of one another.”
More than 5.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Virginia and 3.5 million Virginians — 41% of the population — have received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, the Virginia Department of Health reported Thursday. All Virginians ages 16 and older are eligible to receive the vaccine.