Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday announced a statewide curfew from midnight to 5 a.m. as Virginia continues to battle soaring COVID-19 numbers.
The curfew, which goes into effect Monday at midnight, excludes commuting to and from work and other essential travel.
In addition to the modified "stay-at-home order,” Northam has ordered also stricter mask rules, promised stepped up enforcement and lowered the limit on social gatherings from 25 people to 10 people. The new orders remain in effect until Jan. 31.
"If you are indoors and around other people you need to wear a mask," Northam said. "If you're outdoors and can't stay 6 feet apart, wear a mask. If you're at work, wear a mask."
Northam's orders don't address local schools and their back-to-classroom plans. "Local leaders know what’s right for their community," he said. It does, however, restrict school sports, with fewer players and spectators allowed at games.
The orders come as Virginia is seeing an average of 4,000 new coronavirus cases per day, and an 80 percent spike in hospitalizations over the last four weeks.
"Case numbers have been rising for weeks," Northam said. "They’re now at record high levels. They’re higher now than they ever have been."
Other pandemic restrictions already in place include the statewide mask mandate, also tightened last month to include children between the ages of 5 and 9. Previously the mandate requiring masks to be worn indoors in public places applied to children ages 10 and up. There is also a limit on the on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is after 10 p.m. in any restaurant, brewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. In addition, all such establishments must close by midnight.
Northam joins North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in ordering a curfew as an effort to slow the spread of the virus. The CDC said 2,566 Americans died of COVID-19 on Wednesday.
This is a developing story. Check back at InsideNoVa.com for updates.