RICHMOND, Va. -- Some of Virginia's COVID-19 restrictions will be eased starting April 1, 2021, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Tuesday.
"To be very clear -- we are not simply throwing the doors open," Northam said while amplifying the importance of people getting vaccinated against the virus. "That is the only way we put this pandemic behind us."
As vaccination distribution continues and percent positivity in the community decreases, the following easements will go into effect at the beginning of next month:
Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 100 people for outdoor settings and 50 people for indoor settings. Social gatherings are currently limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
Entertainment venues: Entertainment and public amusement venues must remain at 30% occupancy. Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues must operate at 30 percent capacity or 500 people, an increase from the current cap of 250 people. Outdoor entertainment
and public amusement venues must operate at 30 percent capacity, with no specific attendee cap. Outdoor venues are currently capped at 30 percent capacity or 1,000 attendees, whichever is fewer.
Recreational sports: The number of spectators allowed at recreational sporting events will increase from 25 to 100 indoors, and from 250 to 500 outdoors. Recreational sporting events are limited to 30% capacity.
In-person graduation: As noted in preliminary guidance released last week, graduation events held outdoors will be capped at 5,000 people or 30 percent of the venue capacity, whichever is less. Graduation events held indoors may have up to 500 people, or 30 percent of the venue capacity, whichever is less. Attendees must wear masks and follow other guidelines and safety protocols to ensure proper distancing.
When asked why recreational sports have a lower limit than other venues, Northam said it came down to infrastructure.
"[There is] staff in place at college and professional venues. We don't have that ability at high school," he said.
Staff is needed to enforce social distancing and mask-wearing rules.
This is the developing story.