Late-night drinking and larger gatherings coming soon to Virginia

Posted at 5:21 PM, Feb 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-24 17:32:41-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- With more people getting vaccinated and fewer people testing positive for COVID-19, Virginia will soon be under fewer COVID-19 safety restrictions. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Wednesday a series of changes that will be implemented next week.

Among the eased restrictions is the attendance cap at outdoor sports and entertainment venues. The cap will increase to either 30-percent of the venue's capacity or 1,000 people, whichever is the lower number.

Governor Northam said if the current COVID trends continue, the 1,000 person cap could be lifted by April and the start of Richmond Flying Squirrels baseball season.

"We’re appreciative that the Governor is addressing it," Richmond Flying Squirrels Vice President Todd "Parney" Parnell said. "We're taking steps forward and we're looking forward to more to come."

The Governor also announced the overnight curfew would be lifted and alcohol sales at bars and restaurants could continue until midnight, two hours later than the current 10 p.m. cutoff.

Chad Painter, owner of Wonderland in Shockoe Bottom, said this change likely saved his business.

"If we had gone another month with closing at 10 o'clock, I'd have shut down," Painter said. "There's no way around it because we do the brunt of our business after 10 o'clock."

The size of outdoor gatherings would increase from 10 to 25 people.

"We hope that with trends continuing as they are that we can look at further steps in the coming months," Governor Northam said.

Vaccine News

The governor said the single-dose Johnson & Johnson-made COVID-19 vaccine could be approved soon and would add about 50,000 doses per week to Virginia's supply.

State vaccine coordinator Dr. Danny Avula said they're continuing to work with the new pharmacies offering the vaccine this week through the federal program -- to get appointments from Virginia's waitlist rather than create their own.

"The call center, as you heard earlier, is doing some outbound calling to fill some of those appointments," he said. "Local health departments themselves are staffing up to fill some of those appointments. And then in some cases, the pharmacies themselves are calling off of that, that list."

There are about 1.7 Virginians on the COVID-19 vaccine waitlist.