Gov. Ralph Northam issued an executive order on Monday mandating Virginians stay at home except for essential trips in an effort to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The order expands on an executive order issued last week that had closed all schools and banned gatherings of 10 or more people in any situation except for essential businesses like grocery stores.
“To date this has been a suggestion to Virginians,” Northam said. “today, it’s an order.”
This executive order, which can be read here, explicitly tells citizens to stay at home as much as possible. It also closes beaches in the state — fishing and exercise on the beach are still ok — and forbids campground reservations of less than 14 days.
“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” Northam said. “Our message to Virginians is clear: stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing.”
Northam’s newest order allows for the following exceptions:
Obtaining food, beverages, goods, or services
Seeking medical attention, essential social services, governmental services, assistance from law enforcement, or emergency services
Taking care of other individuals, animals, or visiting the home of a family member
Traveling required by court order or to facilitate child custody, visitation, or child care
Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals comply with social distancing requirements
Traveling to and from one’s residence, place of worship, or work
Traveling to and from an educational institution
Volunteering with organizations that provide charitable or social services
Leaving one’s residence due to a reasonable fear for health or safety, at the direction of law enforcement, or at the direction of another government agency
The order came as coronavirus cases continued to quickly increase nationally and in Virginia. As of Monday night there were 1,020 cases in the state and 225 in Fairfax County, and the numbers are only expected to go up in the next two months, putting a potentially overwhelming burden on hospitals and health care workers.
Right now there are 136 hospitalizations in the state. Last week Northam ordered that hospitals stop performing elective surgery in order to free up hospital beds and conserve protective gear.