Virginia Governor Northam issues stay-at-home order

Posted at 11:03 AM, Mar 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 18:53:42-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order Monday. The order would still allow for people to leave their homes for certain essential activities like shopping for food and seeking medical treatment.

"Please stay home as much as possible," Governor Northam urged Virginians. "This is a community-wide effort and I thank you for complying. This is a time of sacrifice. We need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly."

In addition, the executive order directs all Virginia colleges to stop in-person classes, private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise.

“Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing," Governor Northam said. "I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”

The order will remain in effect until June 10, unless amended or rescinded before then. The order comes after state health officials revealed Monday more than 1,000 Virginia had tested positive for the virus which has killed, to date, 25 people in Virginia.

Northam says breaking these new restrictions or the gathering ban is a class one misdemeanor.

Northam says while he is not looking to put people in jail, localities will enforce the order and continue to enforce the 10 or less order, especially at beaches, parks or non-essential businesses.

"Our doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are putting their lives and health at risk every day, working to help people who are sick with this virus. I am so very grateful to all of you," said Northam. "But this weekend, some of our beaches and other recreational areas were literally packed. Everyone who is gathering In a crowd, at any place around the state is putting themselves and others at risk."

Additionally, while trips to the grocery store are allowed, Northam is urging Virginians to limit those trips and act responsibly.

“I want to be clear, do not go out unless you need to go out,” said Northam. “This is very different from wanting to go out. Don't go to the store just for one thing. Wait until you have a whole list of needs.”

The Governor says the order is necessary to slow the spread of the virus and stop hospitals from being overwhelmed, but added case numbers in the state will continue to rise.

“What we're seeing now is the result of how people interacted two or three weeks ago,” said Northam. “What we will see a few weeks from now will be determined by how people behave today and in the following days.”

Governor Northam previously stated he was coordinating response efforts with Maryland Governor Larry Hogan.

Governor Hogan said Monday that no Maryland resident should leave home unless it is for an essential job or an essential reason such as getting food and medicine or seeking urgent medical attention. Hogan says the order will be effective at 8 p.m. Monday.

Last week, Northam explained why he had not yet issued a stay-at-home order.

"As I've said throughout this process, we are looking at this as a very dynamic situation," Northam said during a Friday news briefing on the COVID-19 crisis. "It changes literally hourly. We monitor that and make decisions that we think are appropriate."

Northam then responded directly about why he has not issued a stay-at-home order like some other governors.

"OK, we're talking semantics here," Northam said. "We're talking about how to enforce this. I, I think if you go back and listen to my comments, not only from today, but from previous days, I have said repeatedly stay at home unless it's essential that you get out."

This is a developing story.

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