Friday, November 20, 2020

This week, new measures went into effect designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. In addition to these measures, it is important for retailers to note that there will be increased and strengthened enforcement with regard to essential retail businesses. Violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One Misdemeanor, regardless of whether or not your business is typically inspected by the Virginia Department of Health. 

Please see below to view all of the new measures as well as Frequently Asked Questions for additional clarification. 



NEW MEASURES:

The measures listed below went into effect at 12am on Monday, November 16 and will remain in effect until amended or rescinded by further executive order. 

Reduction in public and private gatherings: All public and private in-person gatherings must be limited to 25 individuals, down from the current cap of 250 people. This includes outdoor and indoor settings.

Expansion of mask mandate: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces. This expands the current mask mandate, which has been in place in Virginia since May 29 and requires all individuals aged 10 and over to wear face coverings in indoor public settings.

Strengthened enforcement within essential retail businesses: All essential retail businesses, including grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to statewide guidelines for physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning. While certain essential retail businesses have been required to adhere to these regulations as a best practice, violations will now be enforceable through the Virginia Department of Health as a Class One misdemeanor.

On-site alcohol curfew: The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol is prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight. Virginia law does not distinguish between restaurants and bars, however, under current restrictions, individuals that choose to consume alcohol prior to 10:00 p.m. must be served as in a restaurant and remain seated at tables six feet apart.



FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & CLARIFICATION:

Does the gathering ban apply to:

 

  • Churches? 

The social gathering limit does not apply to religious services. Religious services of more than 25 people are required to meet distancing, cleaning, and safety restrictions, including seating parties a minimum of six feet apart and mandatory face coverings.

 

  • Schools?

The social gathering limit applies only to social gatherings. The presence of more than 25 individuals assembled in an educational instructional setting is not considered a gathering.

Social gatherings that take place at schools (i.e., graduation ceremonies) must be limited to no more than 25 people. 

 

  • Work?

The social gathering limit applies only to social gatherings. The presence of more than 25 individuals performing functions of their employment or assembled in an educational instructional setting is not a social gathering.

 

  • Thanksgiving? 

Yes. All public and private in-person gatherings of more than 25 individuals are prohibited. A social gathering includes, but is not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, whether they occur indoors or outdoors.

 

  • Weddings? 

Religious services may occur provided individuals attending religious services must be seated at least six feet apart at all times and must practice physical distancing at all times. Any social gathering held in connection with a religious service, like a wedding reception, is subject to the ban on public and private in-person gatherings of more than 25 people.

 

  • Restaurants? Businesses?

No, the social gathering ban does not apply to businesses. Some businesses (i.e., restaurants) are prohibited from hosting more than 25 people in a party, however they may still have more than 25 people on their premises if six feet of physical distance allows.

The 25 person gathering ban DOES apply to private parties and social events that may be hosted at restaurants, breweries, wineries, or entertainment and public amusement venues -- for example, wedding receptions.

 

What changed in the mask order?

All individuals aged 5 and older must wear face coverings in indoor public settings, including schools and childcare. 

 

Has enforcement of the mask order changed?

No. ​​​​​​

 

What does this mean for essential retail businesses?

The Commonwealth's public health experts have been recommending that essential retail businesses use the best practices on physical distancing, disinfection, and workplace safety in Guidelines for All Business Sectors. This will now be mandatory for all essential retail businesses, and is enforceable with a Class One misdemeanor. 

 

What does the restaurant curfew mean?

Alcohol sales at restaurants, breweries, wineries, etc. must end by 10:00 p.m. Dining rooms must be closed between midnight and 5:00 a.m. Delivery and takeout services are unaffected. 

 

What else is changed?

  • Spectators at recreational sporting events are now limited to 30% occupancy or 25 spectators per field. Marathons and foot races are now limited to 250 participants if they can be separated into heats of 25. 
  • Entertainment and public amusement venues, and racetracks, and speedways are now limited to 30% occupancy or 250 people. 
  • Fitness and exercise group classes are now limited to 25 people. 
  • Public beaches must prohibit gatherings of more than 25 people.