PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Governor Ralph Northam’s new executive order for Hampton Roads went into effect at 12 a.m. Friday.

The emergency order is specific to Hampton Roads with an emphasis on restaurants and social gatherings — the primary source of infections in the region, Northam says.

Localities that included are: Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth,
Hampton, Williamsburg, Newport News, Poquoson, James City County and York County.

Cases and hospitalizations have surged in the region in recent weeks, with about 450 new cases per day and the most current hospitalizations of any region in Virginia. Hampton Roads’ percent of positive tests is above 10%, while the rest of state is around 6%.

The new restrictions include:

  • Restaurants will no longer be able to sell alcohol after 10 p.m. and must close at midnight
  • Indoor dining is limited to 50% capacity
  • Gatherings over 50 people inside or outside are prohibited, excluding religious services

Northam is targeting places where young people gather and congregate. In addition to bars, other gatherings with non-household family and friends, such as birthdays and backyard cookouts, are also a primary source of infection, Northam says.

“This is about stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Hampton Roads. It happens when too many people gather together. When too many people are not compliant, and as I’ve said before when too many people are selfish.”

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There is concern the later the party with alcohol consumption, the less people practice social distancing. “You just don’t care as much about social distancing after you’ve had a couple of drinks. That’s when the virus gets spread,” Northam said.

The Virginia Department of Health will enforce the order, and those found not following could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

To view the governor’s full executive order, click here.

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