Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam: Schools to stay closed through the end of academic year

Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL)-Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Monday that schools across the commonwealth will remain closed through the end of the academic school year.

Northam said during that news conference that individual school districts in Virginia would be making decisions on how academics should be taught and that the state would post further guidance on Tuesday.

The measure also affects private institutions, he told reporters.

In addition, Angela Navarro, deputy secretary of commerce and trade, listed the three categories of businesses affected by the executive order:

  • All recreational and entertainment businesses and services are explicitly set forth in the order and must close.
  • Personal care services that can’t comply with social distancing like barbershops, spas and massage parlors must close, Northam said.
  • Restaurants, breweries, wineries and other businesses providing food or drink services must close dine-in services and can only remain open through takeout or delivery services.
  • Non-essential, brick-and-mortar stores must maintain 10 or fewer patrons in their establishments at a time. The 10-person limit does not include personnel. Businesses that cannot meet that requirement must close.

Additionally, gatherings of more than 10 people are banned in public places, Northam said, and while he said the point isn’t to penalize everyone that his order gives localities the power to enforce the 10-person ban in public spaces like parks and beaches.

The restrictions outlined in the order will be in place for 30 days beginning Wednesday at midnight, Northam said.

“The point is to limit the places where people gather in groups,” Northam said.

“We are moving into a period of sacrifice.”

He added that guidelines to distinguish between an essential and non-essential business will be posted on virginia.gov, noting that the list won’t be exhaustive and subject to change.

Essential businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies will remain open, Northam said while calling for those businesses to step up their sanitation practices and social distancing.

“If you are essential and open, you have a special responsibility to do the right thing,” he said.

Officials reported that 40,000 Virginians filed for unemployment last week. Northam said that he expects that number to continue climbing as the virus spreads.

Feeding sites have been established across the state, he said, and citizens can locate the site closest to them by texting FOOD or COMIDA to 877-877.

As of the briefing on Monday, Northam said 3,700 Virginians have received testing for COVID-19. Six people have died in Virginia from the virus and health officials have confirmed 254 positive cases so far.

You can watch the entire news conference on our WJHL Facebook page below.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates on WJHL.com.

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