Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has issued a stay-at-home order for the state in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The announcement, made at a Monday afternoon press conference, came the same day Gov. Larry Hogan and Mayor Muriel Bowser issued similar orders for Maryland and Washington, D.C., respectively.
After citing instances of packed beaches seen over the weekend in the state, Northam said “It is clear more people need to hear this basic message: stay home.”
Per the executive order, residents of Virginia must stay at home unless they need to leave for work, groceries, medical supplies or to seek medical care. Residents can also go outside for exercise and to get fresh air, as long as they adhere to strict social distancing requirements.
“You should stay home at the greatest extent possible,” Northam said Monday.
As a result of the new order, the City of Falls Church said it is examining its services and locations to see if there is any additional impact beyond what was announced last week.
Northam said authorities have the ability to enforce the order criminally and that anyone who does not comply is subject to a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Executive Order 55 also directs all higher education institutions to stop in-person classes, shuts down private campgrounds for short-term stays and closes beaches except for fishing and exercise. The order is effective immediately and will remain in place until June 10.
The shutdown of the commonwealth has been incremental up until today’s declaration. Initially, Northam was reluctant to issue any binding orders, opting instead to urge the state’s residents to avoid mass gatherings and engage in social distancing. It wasn’t until March 15 that he banned gatherings of more than 100 and the order to close non-essential businesses, including restaurants, came a week later when he also announced the shut down of Virginia schools for the remainder of the academic year last Monday.
According to the Virginia Department of Health, there have been 1,020 reported cases of Covid-19 in the state. Almost half of all Virginia’s cases are people under the age of 50.
With 225 people testing positive, the Fairfax Health District, which includes the City of Falls Church, City of Fairfax, Fairfax County and its towns, has 21 percent of Virginia cases.
There are at least three positive coronavirus cases in the City of F.C., though, since Fairfax health officials are no longer releasing the details of each individual case, that number may be higher.