Closures extended two weeks

Published 10:48 pm Wednesday, April 15, 2020

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Gov. Ralph Northam announced Wednesday that he will extend Executive Order Fifty-Three for two weeks, through Friday, May 8.

Executive Order Fifty-Three, originally signed on March 24, bans crowds of more than 10 people; closes recreation, entertainment and personal care businesses; and limits restaurants to offering takeout and delivery services only.

“As we have seen from our data and models, social distancing is working, and we are slowing the spread of this virus,” said Northam. “But it is too early to let up. By extending this order to keep certain businesses closed or restricted, we can continue to evaluate the situation and plan for how to eventually ease restrictions so that our businesses may operate without endangering public health.”

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A separate executive order, which directs Virginians to stay home unless they must leave for essential services, remains in effect until June 10. A frequently asked questions guide about Virginia’s Stay at Home order can be found here.

In a press conference Wednesday, Northam acknowledged the closures are difficult but said the restrictions are necessary.

“I know this has been a frustrating time for all of us,” he said. “People are out of work, businesses are closed, our entire sense of normal life is out the window. … I know that everyone is looking forward to a path forward.”

However, Northam said, social distancing is working.

“If we let off the brake and try to go back to the way things were, we’ll see another spike in cases that could overwhelm our hospitals,” he said.

Virginia Senate Republicans issued a statement Wednesday afternoon urging the governor to prepare to reopen the state.

“Far too many of Virginia’s businesses simply will not survive an indefinite closure, endangering the jobs of thousands of Virginians and potentially further crippling our economy,” the press release stated. “We urge the governor to develop a vision and release a plan — and a schedule — that will allow our businesses to reopen as soon as possible. Virginians deserve encouraging details.”