Virginia will ease several coronavirus-related restrictions on Monday, including lifting a curfew and loosening limits on outdoor gatherings, as it expands vaccination efforts in partnership with commercial pharmacies.
The modified stay-at-home order that directed residents to stay home between midnight and 5 a.m. will be lifted, Gov. Ralph Northam said Wednesday. Residents should still limit going out, Northam said.
Outdoor social gatherings will be permitted to host 25 people.
Alcohol sales will be allowed until midnight.
Outdoor amusement venues can host up to 30% capacity, capped at 1,000 people.
The falling coronavirus case rate and increasing vaccinations have spurred the change, Northam said. He said he hopes to lift more restrictions in the coming months, especially as vaccinations ramp up.
If trends continue in a positive direction, outdoor amusement venues may be able to lift the cap in April, Northam said.
Virginia implemented these stricter restrictions to prevent spread over the holidays, but can now start “slowly, safely” easing the mitigation strategies, Northam said.
With springtime weather expected in the next few weeks, Northam encouraged people to get outside, where the virus is less transmissible — especially if masks are worn. Indoor gatherings are still limited to 10 people, under the governor's executive order.
Meanwhile, Virginia is expanding vaccinations through commercial pharmacies such as CVS, which began offering shots a couple of weeks ago.
Walgreens is set to begin vaccinations later this week, Northam said. Walmart and the parent companies of Safeway, Food City and Giant as well as a network of community pharmacies are "coming on board" to offer shots, too, Northam said.
These commercial pharmacies will share the federal allotment of 52,000 shots a week and decide which locations should receive shots, Northam said.
"Locations are decided by the companies in consultation with our Virginia Department of Health to focus these efforts on high risk and vulnerable communities," Northam said.
Walmart will not host vaccinations in stores, but instead open up mass sites in select areas that can see hundreds of people a day.
You'll need to make an appointment to get the shot. Most of the pharmacies can work with Virginia's preregistration system to send you an email when you can book. However, some pharmacies that won't be integrated with the system will be making phone calls to set up vaccination appointments, Northam said.
A $175 million allocation from FEMA will also help Virginia set up future mass vaccination sites, once supply is available, Northam said.
“We will be ready as supply expands,” Northam said.
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