coronavirus

Virginia to Lift COVID Restrictions on June 15 If Progress Continues

"We’re approaching a time when we can think differently about how we interact, especially people who are vaccinated," Gov. Ralph Northam said

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Virginia will lift all capacity and social distancing restrictions on June 15 if COVID-19 case numbers continue to drop and vaccination rates continue to rise, the governor said Thursday. 

Gov. Ralph North cited strong progress in the fight against the virus, including drops in case counts, hospitalizations and deaths. 

“We’re not at the finish line yet, and we still need to take the precautions that we all know work. But we’re approaching a time when we can think differently about how we interact, especially people who are vaccinated,” he said at a news conference. 

Virginia residents had mixed reactions to the news.

Resident Madison Wagner said she’s happy to hear the news after a year of lockdown.

"I would be really excited about that. I feel like we've been a little pent-up for the last year or so,” she said.

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Others said they thought lifting all capacity limits at once might be too much.

"It seems almost too good to be true," another resident said.

The state will continue to evaluate guidance on face masks, Northam said. 

People who are fully vaccinated no longer need to wear masks outdoors “when alone or in small gatherings,” the statement last week from the governor’s office said. Masks are still required “indoors and outdoors at large crowded events like concerts, sporting events, and graduation ceremonies.”

A number of COVID-19 restrictions will be loosened on May 15. Here’s what will change: 

  • The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 100 people for indoor settings and 250 people for outdoor settings, up from 50 and 100, respectively
  • Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate at 50 percent capacity or 1,000 people, up from 30% capacity or 500 people. Outdoor venues will be able to operate at 50% capacity.
  • Restaurants will be allowed to return to selling alcohol after midnight. Dining room closures will no longer be required between midnight and 5 a.m.

Stay with NBC Washington for more details on this developing story. 

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