Recognizing an increase in COVID-19 cases in parts of the state, particularly in the Hampton Roads area, Gov. Ralph Northam is increasing enforcement of the state’s rules around the coronavirus.

As of July 14, Northern Virginia is seeing an average of 153 new cases of COVID-19 a day, down from a high of 685 new cases in late May. The eastern region of the state, which includes Hampton Roads, is averaging 347 new cases a day, the highest rate since the pandemic began in early March.

“If we don’t take this seriously now, we could see bigger increases across the Commonwealth,” Northam said in a news conference Tuesday. “It’s clear that step one is stronger enforcement of the existing regulations.”

Regional health districts have the authority to enforce face covering rules and physical distancing regulations in restaurants and places where people gather, Northam said. 

State licensing agencies will be conducting unannounced visits to establishments, as needed, and the state health department is shifting an additional 100 staff members to its existing team of 500 inspectors.

“If you own a restaurant or business and you are not following the regulations, your license will be on the line and we will not hesitate to take action as needed,” Northam said.

The governor also called on businesses to lead in enforcing customer compliance.

“If a patron of your establishment is violating the rules, you have the ability to say ‘no,’” Northam said, then referencing signs often seen in store windows. “It should be no shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service.”

Among other regulations planned, state alcohol officials are drafting requirements for restaurants to stop selling alcohol earlier.

“This is not the end of the actions we may take, but the beginning,” Northam said. “These enforcement actions are to stop the people who are clearly flouting the rules.”

The state may also consider reducing allowed gatherings from 250 people to 50 people. 

“This is about our health and our wellbeing,” Northam said. “It’s going to take all of us to move forward safely.”

If spikes in cases continue in parts of the state, the governor said he’ll look to limit more restrictions to areas with hotspots, rather than the broad statewide actions taken in the earlier months of the pandemic.

Read more local headlines and find events at InsideNoVa.com. Story tips? Email info@insidenova.com

(11) comments

SequerePecuniam

Strange how there is never any context for the "number of new cases." The number is meaningless unless we know how many people are being tested. You don't know what you don't know. It's entirely possible that this is the same rate of infection as during the entire period. All we and they actually know is that the number of cases is directly proportional to the number of tests. The so-called experts still don't have proof of the method of transmission. Something I don't understand about the mask, is if the mask doesn't protect the wearer because the virus can enter through the mask because of its small size, then how does a mask prevent the virus from exiting through the mask of an infected person? It makes zero sense, but then, I'm not an expert. Approximately 67,000 Virginians die of something every year. On the whole, COVID-19 is hardly a blip, and Gov Blackface and his ilk allow many more illegal immigrants to resettle in the state per year than those dying directly from COVID-19.

PWC resident since '69

Saw some idiot in my neighborhood asking everyone to boycott our local food lion because there were some people in the store without masks. Apparently this loser did not consider that some people may have medical conditions that exempt them from mask regulations. Even the Governor recognized at least 6 reasons to exempt people. Also you do not have to carry proof of these medical conditions, no one, not even the biggest shamers, haters and busy bodies have the right to ask your medical condition or history! Would these same “do gooders” ask someone their immigration status, criminal history? Heck no, masks do work, so does distancing and other measuress!

tman

I'm willing to vet that most of the medical issues regarding loose fitting face coverings are mental issue related.

Citizen52

Not really, tman. Many people have a difficult time wearing masks for extended periods of time. They’re uncomfortable when you have to wear them for a long flight and when you’re having a lengthy face-to-face meeting. Still, we should wear them.

Catherine Christine

“ Actually, you should watch MSNBC which compiled multiple pediatricians who said it was time to get kids back to school. Yes, it seems the experts are actually supporting President Trump’s position that schools should re-open in the fall. MSNBC host Craig Melvin’s face at the end of all of these doctors pretty much dispelling the COVID panic porn being peddled by the national media.” Townhall.com/tip sheet/mattvespa/2020. VOTE LIFE!!!

tman

Happy to have a reasonable governor for Virginia, one who understands and appreciates science over politics, unlike the cheeto in chief.

Soily

Glad you like the Klan man as many don't. Let's see, Trump has been given a lot of bad info by career government employees. Fauci was initially against wearing masks until he wasn't. Fauci was initially opposed to restricting travel from China until he wasn't. Fauci was initially supportive of WHO leadership until he wasn't. At least Trump knows how to wear a mask. Half the time Biden's mask is hanging off his left ear with his nose and mouth exposed, or he has it on with his nose uncovered. Biden obviously rivals all past and present (and probably future) candidates as the stupidest man to ever run for president.

fed11

What science is that? How does one pulling out their mask from pocket/purse multiple times while touching said mask with non sterile hands help? Do you reuse your kleenex?

Catherine Christine

GOD, Family, Country, Truth, Life, Liberty, Rule of Law, Justice, PEACE. Womb to the Tomb type Justice and peace. And ... Love and Mercy and Forgiveness.

Catherine Christine

Are we still allowed to call this what it really is? Or is everyone else afraid of losing everything held dear?

fed11

Do not comply to unconstitutional edicts in the name of “safety”

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