“We are not simply throwing the doors open,” Northam said at a March 23 news conference. “These are measured changes.”
New daily reported cases and deaths in Virginia
For a detailed look at cases and deaths, see The Post’s interactive map here.
What are the current restrictions in Virginia?
The limit on outdoor social gatherings is 25 people. Outdoor entertainment venues can operate at 30 percent capacity, with a cap of 1,000 people. Restaurants and other establishments can offer indoor dining but must stop selling alcohol by midnight. Entertainment venues can have as many as 250 people or 30 percent capacity, whichever is less. Fitness centers and sports facilities can operate at 75 percent capacity, with a 25-person limit. Beauty salons, barbershops and spas can operate, but everyone must wear a mask. Recreational sports are allowed with a limit of 25 spectators per field for indoor sports, with spectators for outdoor sports limited at two per player. For marathons and other races, the crowd limit is 250 people.
Indoor entertainment venues are allowed to have 500 people, but not more than 30 percent capacity. Outdoor venues, such as stadiums, will remain capped at 30 percent capacity, but the limit of 1,000 people has been lifted. Recreational sports are able to have 100 spectators indoors and 500 outdoors, with a 30 percent capacity limit. Social gatherings, including weddings, are able to have 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. School graduations can have 500 people indoors and 5,000 people outdoors, or 30 percent of the venue’s capacity, whichever is less.
Have any of the variants of the virus been found in Virginia?
Yes. The virus variants that were first discovered in the United Kingdom, South Africa and California have all been found in Virginia. More transmissible, those variants have contributed to a recent surge in cases, along with looser attitudes about masks and other protective measures, epidemiologists say.. Available vaccines are thought to be effective against the variants.
Are there enough hospital beds in Virginia?
Yes. You can find updated information on hospitalizations here.
How can I get tested for the virus?
Testing locations change often, while local health departments and some private groups have been hosting pop-up testing sites for limited periods. The most up-to-date information on where to get a coronavirus test can be found here.
Can I travel out of state?
Yes, but be mindful that some states have quarantine mandates for out-of-state travelers. For example, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut include Virginia on their lists of states whose infection rates are high enough to require a 10-day quarantine period. If you’re traveling to other states, check with the state and local health departments to see if Virginia is on their list.
Is it safe to travel by airplane, train or bus?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that it’s safe to travel once you’ve been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. However, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky still says she does not recommend travel in general. “I would advocate against general travel overall,” she said at a White House briefing April 2. “Our guidance is silent on recommending or not recommending fully vaccinated people travel. Our guidance speaks to the safety of doing so.”
For those who are not yet vaccinated, the CDC is recommending that people avoid travel if it’s not necessary.
Are schools in Virginia holding classes in person?
Yes, in-person instruction is occurring. In Fairfax County, the state’s largest district, more than 84,000 students returned to in-person class the week of March 15. Loudoun County schools have seen about 36 percent of the student body return to class, or just under 30,000 students, while in Arlington, a total of about 17,000 students returned to class as of the week of March 15. Alexandria returned almost 5,400 students to in-person learning.
Do I have to wear a mask in public in Virginia?
The state’s mask mandate is still in effect. Those who are 5 and older must wear masks when indoors in areas shared with other people as well as outdoors if they are within six feet of another person.
Exemptions include eating or drinking in restaurants or taverns, exercising, a person seeking to communicate with a hearing-impaired person and anyone with a health condition that keeps them from wearing a face covering. Children older than 2 are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering when possible.
Employees inside essential business, such as a pharmacy or a restaurant, are also required to wear face coverings.
Violations of the mask order are considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and are subject to jail time and fines of as much as $2,500. The state has begun to penalize local businesses that violate the requirement by suspending food permits and other business licenses.
Is it safe to eat in a restaurant, go shopping, hit the gym or attend a religious service?
Public health experts say any indoor spaces have higher transmission risks than being outdoors. Masking, social distancing and limited capacity can reduce the risk of transmission indoors but cannot eliminate it.
The CDC recommends not visiting any of these places if you are feeling ill and to check in advance about mask policies.
Is it safe to eat in a tent outdoors at a restaurant?
The risk of transmission depends on who else is in the tent with you. If it’s a pod limited to only the diners in your household, your transmission risk is less than if multiple tables are seated inside the same sealed tent. Although outdoors, the tent, if closed off to the elements, could create poor ventilation akin to dining indoors. Experts recommend wearing your mask whenever not actively eating and drinking.
How is Virginia distributing vaccines?
The state’s vaccination process has been hampered by confusion after the pool of eligible recipients was expanded under what turned out to be a false expectation that the federal government would be providing those extra doses. The state’s rate of inoculations briefly ranked near the bottom in the country before a push by Northam’s administration brought that rate up to where most states are.
Virginia has created a statewide registration system for residents to register for vaccine appointments. Residents can also call 1-877-VAX-IN-VA to register. However, since Fairfax County has opted out of the state system, residents of that county must continue to register for appointments here. And those seeking to get vaccinated through CVS must still register through that pharmacy’s website, which is not connected with the statewide system. Commercial pharmacies are starting to administer doses to a wider range of people: those ages 16 to 64 with high-risk medical conditions, as well as front-line essential workers, including police officers, mail carriers, public transit workers and ride-share drivers.
Health-care workers and residents of long-term-care facilities were the first to get vaccinated. Virginia is now offering doses to residents 65 and older, those who are 16 or older and have underlying medical conditions and most essential workers — including health-care workers, teachers, firefighters, police officers, restaurant employees and child-care workers. Vaccine supplies are increasing, but some jurisdictions are closer than others in meeting Northam’s April 18 deadline for everyone 16 and older to become eligible for vaccination.
Nearly $40 million in federal Cares Act funds will go toward helping people who are uninsured or underinsured receive vaccinations. Local health officials will be tasked with getting the vaccine to any non-federally recognized tribal communities.
More answers to questions about how the coronavirus vaccine is being distributed in the region can be found here.
Erin Cox, Hannah Natanson, Jenna Portnoy, Laura Vozzella and Julie Zauzmer contributed to this report.