(The Center Square) – Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is placing new restrictions on the Hampton Roads region because of rising positive COVID-19 cases.
Northam said he was signing a new executive order that takes effect at 12:01 a.m. Friday. Under the order, alcohol can't be sold or consumed on site after 10 p.m. and restaurants must close by midnight.
"This effectively closes all bars," he said.
Indoor dining will be limited to 50 percent capacity at restaurants, food courts, breweries, wineries and distilleries. And public and private gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited, including at indoos and outdoor parties.
"We all know that alcohol changes your judgment," Northam said. "You just don't care as much about social distancing after you've had a couple of drinks."
In anticipation of Northam's latest restrictions, business groups expressed concern about what they would mean long-term.
“Any move backwards is going to make it more difficult for them to survive,” Nicole Riley, the Virginia State Director for the National Association of Independent Business told The Center Square Monday.
About 71 percent of businesses represented by NFIB nationally have spent all of their Paycheck Protection Program loan money and nearly half of them say they’ll need more within the next six months. Riley said some of these businesses may be forced to shut down and try to wait out the pandemic because they’re operating with significant losses.
Northam said other areas of the state are doing better in containing the spread of the coronavirus, but noted that the positivity rate of COVID-19 tests in Hampton Roads stood at 10.8 percent in the past week.
The governor also said there was good news, saying almost 3,000 nursing home residents have recovered from COVID-19.
"In our nursing homes, things have turned around," Northam said.
Virginia hospitals also have released 12,000 people who recovered from COVID-19 and cases are "largely stable" in four of the state's five health districts
To date, the state has seen 87,000 cases and more than 2,000 deaths.