Virginia plans to lift COVID measures by June 15, except mask mandate, if trends continue

Virginia Politics

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia could lift capacity limits and social distancing rules on June 15 if virus levels continue to drop and vaccinations go up, Gov. Northam says.

The mask mandate will also be reevaluated. Northam’s state of emergency that’s set to expire on June 30 deals with mask wearing and would actually prohibit the voluntary use of masks if the order expires. State officials say they’ll have more details going forward.

Northam says he hopes to have COVID in the rear-view mirror by then, but will look to CDC guidance on the issue.

“If our COVID case numbers keep trending down and our vaccination numbers keep going up, we plan to lift our mitigation measures, capacity restrictions and social distancing requirements,” Northam said in a briefing Thursday.

Watch the full briefing below:

Prior to then, on May 15, some other restrictions will be updated. The cap on indoor gatherings will go from 50 to 100 people, and outdoor gatherings will go up from 100 to 250. Restaurants will also be able to sell alcohol past midnight.

Indoor entertainment venues such as theaters and concert venues will also be able to expand to 50 percent capacity or 1,000 attendees. Outdoor entertainment can go to 50% capacity with no cap.

“This is good news, and it’s thanks to the millions of Virginians who have done the right thing for so long … we still have work to do. We’re not at the finish line yet,” Northam said.

Northam recently lifted the mask requirement for limited outdoor settings, which follows revised guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Virginia’s averaging just over 850 new cases per day and its test positivity rate is now down to 4.4% overall. Hospitalizations are also dropping, at 847 patients. And deaths have dropped dramatically compared to the winter, but about 16 deaths are still being reported daily.

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