NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton Roads businesses are celebrating a step forward in the fight against coronavirus.
Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday he’s easing the targeted restrictions on bars, restaurants and gatherings in eastern Virginia.
The measures were put in place nearly six weeks ago after a spike in cases earlier this summer, but those numbers have been steadily declining since the restrictions were put in place.
Northam’s announcement means alcohol sales are no longer cut off at 10 p.m., restaurants can stay open past midnight and gatherings of more than 50 people are allowed.
Still, Northam is reminding the public: do not let your guard down.
“It’s good news for the City of Norfolk and it’s good news for the restaurants right down here on Granby Street,” said Peter Freda. “I hope people venture out downtown and stay out longer.”
Freda owns Granby Street Pizza. He said the announcement is welcome news.
“It was very tough. A lot of the places downtown were closing early because there was no business to be had out here after 10 [p.m.],” Freda said.
The percent positivity rate for Virginia’s eastern region has dropped to 6.7 percent. That’s down from more than 10 percent at the end of July when cases spiked following the Memorial Day and Fourth of July holidays.
We’re told Norfolk’s downtown district felt more like a ghost town once restrictions went in place. Managers at Grace O’Malley’s pub say they’re relieved to be moving forward.
“Business has done as good as it can for the time being but we’re ready to get back in normal routine,” said Ashley Dicecco, bar manager at Grace O’Malley’s.
As Hampton Roads moves into Phase 3, Northam’s message remains the same: Be vigilant.
“They want everybody to be safe and that’s the bottom line,” Freda said.
Businesses hope the public listens.
“Wash your hands and be respectful of the guidelines because places like us are going to suffer if we don’t follow those guidelines,” Dicecco said.
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