Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced an extended stay-at-home order on Monday night, lasting through June 10, 2020. The orders ensure that businesses, schools and other facilities will remain closed, and large gatherings will be banned during this time. The announcement comes as cases of the coronavirus continue to rise.
Northam announced his stay-at-home order on Monday, joining some of his state's neighbors in similar measures. According to a report by The Washington Post, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a similar order, as did Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser. The region has seen a sharp rise in cases of COVID-19, and in deaths related to the virus. Other states, such as California, Illinois and New York, have already instituted similar measures.
To the people congregating on our beaches and completely ignoring what everyone else is doing—you are being selfish. You are putting all of us at risk, especially our healthcare providers. This is a statewide effort, and all Virginians need to comply and #StayAtHome. pic.twitter.com/E9KTF8xQ3r— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) March 30, 2020
Northam has reportedly been criticized so far for being slow to act on the coronavirus pandemic, advising residents to follow social distancing guidelines without enforcing them by law. On Monday, he decided to act after a warm weekend in Virginia brought residents out to crowd the beaches. Northam said that the revelers were "completely ignoring what we're doing."
"You are being very, very selfish because you're putting all of us — especially our health care providers — at risk," he said. "To date, this has been a suggestion to Virginians. Today it's an order."
The change comes after Virginia revealed 130 new cases of COVID-19, bringing it to a total of 1,021. The state has seen 26 deaths so far, including six just this weekend.
Northam's stay-at-home order is one of the longest-running announced so far. During this time, Virginia residents are allowed to leave home to buy food or medicine, or seek medical care. Outdoor exercise is allowed to some extent as well, but only with people they live with.
Certain people will be allowed to leave home for work as well, if they do an "essential" job or work for the federal, state or local government. Out of the three areas with new stay-at-home orders, Virginia's is the only one that will not be enforced by police. However, Northam reportedly warned that people who violate the order could face a fine of up to $2,500, a year in jail, or both.
Virginia's stay-at-home order goes into effect immediately, except for the policy on campgrounds, which allows some leniency for people to vacate tonight. It is scheduled to go for at least 10 weeks, signaling a longer timeline than the one proposed by Trump in recent press conferences.
For the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit the CDC's website.