New COVID measures now in effect across Virginia

Posted at 7:39 AM, Dec 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-14 07:40:01-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- New measures to combat the coronavirus that include a stricter mask mandate and a curfew that requires most Virginians to stay at home between midnight to 5 a.m. went into effect Monday.

The executive order also reduces the state’s cap on public gatherings from 25 people to 10.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam expanded the state's longstanding mask requirements to include outdoor areas where social distancing isn’t possible and all indoor areas shared with others, except for households.

The pervious mask mandate required only that masks be worn in indoor public settings.

The modified stay-at-home order has some exceptions, including for Virginians traveling to work and seeking medical attention.

The mask mandate does not apply to children under five.

The executive order will be in place through the end of January.

Northam's directive aims to slow the spread of the coronavirus at a time when the state, like much of the country, is seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.

Virginia is faring better than many other states, but has reported more than 3,000 daily cases in recent days and its total coronavirus-related death count stands at more than 4,300.

Hospitals in the state's southwest have struggled with capacity after seeing a sharp rise in cases and some school districts around the state have discontinued in-person learning.

Virginia officials said last week they expect to receive enough vaccine doses by the year’s end to begin inoculating nearly all of its health care workers and long-term care facility residents - if two COVID-19 vaccine candidates receive authorization from federal regulators.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up within weeks. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause severe symptoms and be fatal. The vast majority of people recover.