RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia Governor Ralph Northam Monday issued a statewide "Stay at Home" order in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, or COVID-19, disease in the Commonwealth.
Northam said the executive order takes effect immediately and will remain in place until June 10, 2020, unless amended or rescinded by a further executive order.
“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. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”
Northam, who spoke during a media press conference, said the order directs all Virginians to stay home except in extremely limited circumstances. The governor said individuals may leave their residence for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined in Executive Order Fifty-Three, and engage in outdoor activity with strict social distancing requirements.
Northam said the executive order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction. Private campgrounds must close for short-term stays, and beaches will be closed statewide except for fishing and exercise.
According to the Associated Press, Northam's executive order tells the state's approximately 8.5 million people they must stay home except for limited circumstances, such as traveling to or from work, seeking medical attention, obtaining goods and services, including food, or engaging in outdoor activity. The order also adds restrictions to the state's public beaches, closing them to sunbathing but permitting exercising and fishing.
“Do not go out unless you need to go out,' Northam said. "This is very different from wanting to go out."
When asked by reporters how the Stay at Home order would be enforced, Northam said he doesn't want to put people in jail.
"This is not a time ... when we're looking to put people in jail,” Northam said," Northam said. "But it is a time when I expect people to comply."
Northam said health models are suggesting that the number of coronavirus cases in Virginia will continue to increase in the days ahead.
As of Monday afternoon, Virginia reported 1,020 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 136 hospitalizations and 25 deaths.