VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The downward trend in Virginia’s COVID-19 metrics is pushing the commonwealth forward in the fight against the virus.
Gov. Ralph Northam rolled back several restrictions on Wednesday, including the cutoff time for onsite alcohol sales and consumption. It now ends at midnight.
Business owners down at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront told 10 On Your Side it’s much-needed progress.
“We’re finally seeing COVID numbers fall and vaccination numbers rise,” Northam said.
The governor said it’s time to take a cautious step forward.
Starting Monday, March 1, the modified curfew from 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. will be lifted and outdoor social gatherings will expand to a 25-person limit, up from the previous limit of 10. Outdoor entertainment and amusement venues will be able to operate at 30% capacity or up to 1,000 people, whichever is lower.
On-site alcohol sales and consumption will end at midnight instead of the previous cutoff time of 10 p.m.
“It means a lot, honestly, especially on the weekends,” said James Orlanda, assistant general manager at The Atlantic off Pacific Avenue. “That extra two hours would be awesome for us from a business standpoint.”
Businesses in Virginia Beach also said the announcement is welcome news after a challenging year.
“We’re excited about that. We’re even more excited about the numbers of COVID cases going down,” said Rhett Rebold, owner of Vibrant Shore Brewing Co. “We want people to have a good time and we also want them to be safe.”
Customers still can’t be seated at the bar, and restaurants, breweries and others must still close at midnight.
“When the bar opens, it opens, but we’re not gonna rush it by any means and progress is always good,” Orlanda said.
Northam said if these trends continue, more restrictions could be lifted.
“It would be great to know what a real, normal summer would look like here because we haven’t had one yet,” said Rebold. His brewery opened in late 2019.
Business owners said they’re optimistic and hopeful everyone will stay on course.
“We’ve been given more, so let’s not take advantage of it and let’s just show them that we can actually follow the rules [appropriately] so that we can make more progress,” Orlanda said.
These eased restrictions will be in place for at least a month.
Northam reminded the public not to risk the progress made so far — keep wearing a mask and continue social distancing.