Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday announced that sports and entertainment venues in Virginia may begin to operate with expanded capacity, and social gathering limits will increase beginning Saturday, May 15.
The announcement comes as vaccinations continue to rise in the commonwealth, and more than half of all adults have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. All Virginians age 16 and older are now eligible to for the vaccine.
“It’s good news that half of all adults in Virginia have gotten a shot so far,” Northam said in a news release. “Vaccination numbers are up, and our COVID-19 case numbers are substantially lower than they were earlier this year. So, we have been able to begin easing some mitigation measures. We took a few more targeted steps this week, and we will do more next month.”
Northam said he's optimistic the state will be able to further ease restrictions in June.
The governor also reminded Virginians that getting vaccinated keeps communities safer, and allows expanded personal activities—for example, people who have been fully vaccinated do not have to quarantine after an exposure, per guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The state will continue to mandate mask-wearing and social distancing, even as commercial restrictions are further eased, Northam said.
Restrictions eased as of May 15 include:
Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 100 people for indoor settings and 250 people for outdoor settings. Social gatherings are currently limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.
Entertainment venues: Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people, up from 30 percent capacity or 500 people. Outdoor venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity—up from 30 percent—with no specific cap on the number of attendees.
Recreational sporting events: The number of spectators allowed at indoor recreational sporting events will increase from 100 to 250 spectators or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less. Outdoor recreational sporting events will increase from 500 to 1,000 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is less.
Alcohol sales: Restaurants may return to selling alcohol after midnight, and dining room closures will no longer be required between midnight and 5 a.m.
Earlier this week Northam made minor changes to the existing mitigation measures, including increased accommodations for cross-country events, school-based fine arts performances, and expanded access to bar seating in restaurants with strict social distancing.
Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.
Virginians over the age of 16 can schedule an appointment for vaccination by visiting vaccinate.virginia.gov or calling 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1).