Northam Restricts Large Groups, Night Drinking, Expands Mask Mandate Ahead Of Thanksgiving

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Mary Margaret Olohan Social Issues Reporter
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Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced new coronavirus restrictions Friday, only a few weeks ahead of Thanksgiving.

“COVID-19 is surging across the country, and while cases are not rising in Virginia as rapidly as in some other states, I do not intend to wait until they are. We are acting now to prevent this health crisis from getting worse,” the governor said in a statement.

He continued: “Everyone is tired of this pandemic and restrictions on our lives. I’m tired, and I know you are tired too. But as we saw earlier this year, these mitigation measures work. I am confident that we can come together as one Commonwealth to get this virus under control and save lives.”

The new restrictions limit large groups to 25 people or less, both indoors and outdoors, and requires all Virginians ages five and older to wear face coverings inside public spaces. This expands the previous mandate, which only required masks for children 10 and older.  (RELATED: ‘I’m The Public Face’: Here’s A List Of Lawmakers Who Broke COVID Rules)

The announcement also threatens to enforce statewide guidelines for “physical distancing, wearing face coverings, and enhanced cleaning” in essential businesses as a Class One misdemeanor and prohibits the sale “on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol” after 10 pm in restaurants, breweries, wineries, and more.

“All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight,” the release said. “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. ”

The measures go into effect at midnight on Sunday, November 15.

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