Gov. Ralph Northam issues ‘stay at home’ order for Virginia; beaches and campgrounds also closed

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RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a Stay at Home order for Virginia during Monday’s 2 p.m. press conference on the coronavirus pandemic.

Executive Order 55 is effective immediately and will remain in place until June 10 unless amended by another executive order.

The order follows similar orders in neighboring states North Carolina and Maryland, as well as many other states across the U.S.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday the Washington D.C. region (Va., Md. and Washington D.C.) is at risk of becoming the next New York.

Northam’s announcement Monday comes as Virginia health officials report 1,020 cases overall across the state, with 25 deaths and 136 hospitalizations.

13% percent of the 1,020 cases have required hospitalization so far. Hospitalizations increased by 24 between Sunday (112) and Monday (136), the largest increase in a day’s span so far.

“Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing,” said Northam. “I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”

Under the Virginia “stay at home order,” residents are allowed to travel only they if they are:

  • Seeking medical attention
  • Working
  • Caring for family or household members
  • Engaging in outdoor activity with “strict” social distancing requirements
  • Obtaining goods and services like groceries, prescriptions and others outlined in the Governor’s website.

“This is very different from wanting to go out,” Northam said. “Don’t go to the store just for one thing. Wait until you have a whole list of needs.”

Northam had a strong message for people who aren’t practicing social distancing.

Northam has a stern message. 

“You are being very, very selfish because you are putting all of us, especially our healthcare providers, at risk,” he said.

Under the order, people gathering in groups of more than 10 could also face a Class 1 misdemeanor. According to Virginia state code, that’s punishable by up to a year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine although Northam says the main goal is compliance. 

“What we see a few weeks from now will be determined from how people behave today and in the following days,” he said.

In response to Northam’s order, Norfolk Naval Shipyard put out a statement informing the public and its workers that the shipyard is considered an essential business. If asked by local law enforcement, employees need to identify themselves, show their CAC and explain the nature of their work and travel.

The executive order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction.

Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays and beaches will be closed statewide except for exercise and fishing.

“No age group is immune,” said Northam, citing that half of COVID-19 cases in Virginia are people age 50 and under.

Virginia Beach Boardwalk shut down as of Monday afternoon except for exercise and fishing, per an order from Gov. Ralph Northam.

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