UPDATE: On Jan. 27, 2021, Governor Northam announced that Executive Order 72 shall remain in full force and effect until 11:59 p.m., February 28, 2021. The full text of the amended order is available here.
As COVID-19 cases, positive tests and hospitalizations continue to rise in Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam on Thursday announced new, targeted measures to slow the spread of the virus. Executive Order Seventy-Two directs Virginians to stay at home between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m., implements a universal mask requirement and lowers the limit on social gatherings from 25 people to 10 people. The order will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 14 and remain in place through Jan. 31, 2021, unless rescinded or amended.
“Arlington welcomes the Governor’s actions to protect Virginians from the surging spread of the COVID-19 virus,” County Board Chair Libby Garvey said. “We have all seen the numbers and the trends, and they are deeply disturbing. We know that pandemic fatigue is real, and that it is particularly difficult to hunker down during the holidays, when we all want to be with the people we love. But we need everyone to comply with these measures to help avoid overwhelming our healthcare system. Stay home, wear a mask if you must go outside, keep at least six feet of distance between you and those outside your household, and wash your hands frequently.”
The following mitigation measures will take effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 14:
- Modified Stay at Home Order: All individuals in Virginia must remain at their place of residence between the hours of 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. Exceptions include obtaining food and goods, traveling to and from work, and seeking medical attention.
- Universal mask requirement: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor settings shared with others (excluding personal residences) and when outdoors within six feet of another person. This order expands the current statewide mask mandate, which has been in place since May 29, and requires all individuals aged five and over to wear face coverings in indoor and outdoor public settings outside of their own household. These changes are consistent with new CDC guidelines, which recommend universal wearing of face coverings.
- Reduction in social gatherings: All social gatherings must be limited to 10 individuals, down from the current cap of 25 people. Social gatherings include, but are not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, regardless of whether they occur indoors or outdoors. This does not apply to religious services, employment settings, or educational settings. Restaurants and retail stores are already governed by strict social distancing requirements and are not included in this limit.
- Continued limits on dining establishments: Virginia restaurants are currently governed by strict social distancing and sanitization requirements, which remain in place. The on-site sale, consumption, and possession of alcohol remains prohibited after 10:00 p.m. in any restaurant, dining establishment, food court, brewery, microbrewery, distillery, winery, or tasting room. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must close by midnight.
- Teleworking: Employees that can telework are strongly encouraged to do so.
The Northern Health Region, which includes Arlington County, is experiencing increases in COVID-19 cases, positive tests and hospitalizations. Arlington is currently averaging nearly 90 new COVID-19 cases per day, and the positivity rate is 8.4%, up from 3.5% just two months ago.
See the full text of Executive Order Seventy-Two, which incorporates earlier Executive Orders Sixty-Three and Sixty-Seven.
As we approach the holiday season, remember that the safest way to celebrate this year is with people in your household bubble. If you do plan to spend time with people outside your household, follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to make your celebration safer.
More information is available on the County’s COVID website, including: