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Public gathering limits to ease, beginning Monday

Beginning Monday, a number of restrictions placed on gatherings in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will be eased, Gov. Ralph Northam announced on Wednesday.

With COVID-19 hospitalization and infection rates falling, and with vaccinations on the rise, Virginians can gradually resume certain recreational activities, and that sectors of the economy can begin to reopen, Northam said.

However, “even as we take steps to safely ease public health guidelines,” he said, “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.”

Northam increased the number of people allowed at outdoor social gatherings to 25, while he kept in place the 10-person indoor limit.

Outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues may now operate with up to 1,000 individuals or at 30 percent capacity, whichever is lower. If current trends continue, he said, such venues may be able to operate at 30 percent capacity, with no limit on the number of people permitted. Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues must still operate at 30 percent capacity, with a cap of 250 people, he said.

Dining establishments may now allow the on-site sale, consumption and possession of alcohol until midnight, rather than 10 p.m., said Northam, but all restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must still be closed between midnight and 5 a.m.

As of May, overnight summer camps will be able to open with strict mitigation measures in place, said Northam, adding that registration may begin immediately.

The new guidelines will be effective for at least one month, said Northam, and mitigation measures may be eased further “if key health metrics continue to improve.”

The changes were made in Executive Order Seventy-Two and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine, available online at