RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that as COVID-19 hospitalizations and infection rates continue to decline and vaccinations rise in Virginia, certain outdoor sports and entertainment venues may begin to operate at increased capacity starting Monday, March 1. He amended Executive Order Seventy-Two with the next steps of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of the virus.
“Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of all Virginians, hospitalization and positivity rates across the Commonwealth are the lowest they have been in nearly three months,” said Governor Northam. “As key health metrics show encouraging trends and we continue to ramp up our vaccination efforts, we can begin to gradually resume certain recreational activities and further reopen sectors of our economy. Even as we take steps to safely ease public health guidelines, we must all remain vigilant so we can maintain our progress—the more we stay home, mask up, and practice social distancing, the more lives we will save from this dangerous virus.”
The Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued strict health and safety protocols including physical distancing, mask-wearing requirements, gathering limits, and business capacity restrictions. The current modified Stay at Home order will expire on February 28, 2021.
Governor Northam is beginning to ease public health restrictions by taking steps to increase capacity limits in outdoor settings, where evidence shows the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 is lower. The key changes in the Third Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two include:
The new guidelines will be effective for at least one month and mitigation measures may be eased further if key health metrics continue to improve. Current guidelines for retail businesses, fitness and exercise, large amusement venues, and personal grooming services will remain in place. Individuals are strongly encouraged to continue teleworking if possible.
Last week, Governor Northam amended Executive Order Seventy-Two to increase the number of spectators permitted at outdoor youth sporting events to 250.
Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.
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Please see the National Retail Federation’s announcement below on changes made by the Biden Administration to the Paycheck Protection Program, including a 14-day period, starting February 24th, during which only businesses with fewer than 20 employees can apply for relief through the program:
Yesterday, President Biden announced several reforms to the Paycheck Protection Program as a means to help the smallest businesses and those that have been left behind in previous relief efforts. The changes include:
Biden-Harris Administration Increases Lending to Small Businesses in Need, Announces Changes to PPP to Further Promote Equitable Access to Relief
The White House: whitehouse.gov
Health and government officials are working together to maintain the safety, security, and health of the American people. Small businesses are encouraged to do their part to keep their employees, customers, and themselves healthy.
Small Business Administration: sba.gov
Multiple funding options for businesses seeking relief.
Small Business Administration: sba.gov
We know that these are scary and uncertain times in the retail industry with everything that is going on right now. We want to make sure that our members know that VRF is playing an active role in conversations on the State and Federal level on how to best help businesses through these trying times. We are constantly communicating how COVID-19 is impacting Virginia’s retailers, and how elected officials can help. We will continue to update our members with major announcements via email, social media, and through our resource guide found here:
As reported last week, both the House and the Senate each have their own version of a Minimum Wage bill which has passed their respective body. HB 395 and SB 7 are the two vehicles for Minimum Wage increase. SB 7, as passed on the Senate Floor, is the version that contains some of the mitigation factors the business community sought. As of this report, HB 395 has been conformed to SB 7 (meaning it now looks just like SB 7) and will now be heard on the Senate Floor. It is likely to pass the Senate in that form, however, the House will most likely reject those amendments once it comes back to them and the bill will end up in Conference.