‘It’s hopefully going to get us one step closer to being back to normal’: Virginia to relax some COVID restrictions Monday

Local Coronavirus Coverage

BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Some COVID-19 safety restrictions in Virginia are to be lifted Monday, as coronavirus cases reach new lows.

On Wednesday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced that on March 1, new coronavirus guidelines will take effect.

The new guidelines mean outdoor social gatherings will be able to increase capacity from 10 to 25 people, Virginia’s alcohol-serving cutoff time at restaurants will move from 10 p.m. to midnight, and the overnight stay-at-home curfew order will be lifted.

Some Southwest Virginians in the restaurant industry told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais that they are excited about these changes.

“Nothing good happens at a bar at midnight, is a good age-old thing but as long as people are responsible, I think, and respect the rules that people have as far as like wearing masks, and being respectful, I think that it should be a good thing,” Restaurant worker Stuart Colley said. “Especially when everything first started, we were trying to figure out how to navigate a new normal every couple of days, but we managed”

Restaurant Owner Joel Jerkins told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais that his restaurants and catering establishment will be able to seat more customers at events when the weather warms up.

He added that these upcoming changes, especially being able to sell alcohol until a later time, will make a great difference to the business.

“It was Super Bowl, we actually had to stop selling beer – alcohol – before the game was over with and ask people, basically, to leave,” Jerkins explained. “We’re real excited about it. It’s hopefully going to get us one step closer to being back to normal.”

Jerkins said that these new guidelines will boost his business in different ways, especially after COVID-19 nearly ruined his nearly 8-year-old restaurant and catering company.

“In our business, that we might survive this year, that we might come out of this hole that we’re in – that 2020 put us is. My staff’s excited, we’ve been busier the last couple of weeks, you know, they’re making a little bit more money, so is the house, so it’s a win-win,” he said.

He explained that for so many small businesses, the coronavirus pandemic meant closing forever, but he is holding out for a better tomorrow.

“We’re excited about opening up a little bit more space, and more people, more hours, I think it’s going to be great for a lot of restaurants, especially some of the smaller one that when you go to half capacity, they’re only holding 30-40 people, well, you can’t live on that,” he said.

Gov. Northam said the cap on gathering at outdoor venues could be removed in April if the lowered COVID-19 numbers persist, however, mask mandates will still be enforced for Virginians over the age of five years.

The incremental COVID-19 guidance changes is a good thing, one Virginian told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais.

“I think that it is a good thing to kind of slowly go into something like this, as long as everyone takes it seriously,” Colley said.

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