“Our message today is very clear: That is to stay home,” said Governor Ralph Northam at the beginning of a March 30 press conference.
On March 27, the governor issued Executive Order 53, which shut down schools for the rest of the year, closed all “non-essential” businesses, and asked everyone to social distance, in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19. But over the weekend, photos of crowded beaches in places like Norfolk showed that many Virginians weren’t taking Northam’s suggestions seriously. Late last week, Charlottesville’s City Council wrote an open letter to the governor, urging him to “implement stricter measures.”
Monday’s Executive Order 55 is more direct, and requires everyone to stay home unless they are seeking medical attention, buying food or other essential supplies, caring for a family member, or “engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise.” Public beaches and campgrounds are closed.
In-person gatherings of 10 or more people are now punishable by a Class 1 misdemeanor. Northam said last week that the state is “certainly not looking to put people in jails,” but that law enforcement will be taking steps when necessary to break up groups.
Not much should change here in Charlottesville, where the city had already shut down most public spaces. Essential businesses like grocery stores will stay open, and restaurants and retail stores will still be allowed to offer online ordering (or in-person shopping with no more than 10 customers at a time) and curbside pickup or delivery.
The executive order will be in effect until at least June 10. “To date, this has been a suggestion,” Northam said on Monday. “Today, it’s an order.”
Quote of the Week
“This is a little bit of medical trivia for you. Certainly nothing against our retail stores that sell clothing, and especially neckties, but neckties actually harbor contagious pathogens.”
—Governor Ralph Northam, on his new look. He hasn’t worn a tie in two weeks, reports the Virginian-Pilot.
Despite limiting visitors and other safety measures, The Colonnades, a nursing home in Albemarle County, confirmed March 27 that there is a case of COVID-19 within its community. The facility has since ramped up its prevention efforts, including ending communal dining and screening all residents and staff for symptoms daily. A resident at The Lodge at Old Trail in Crozet also tested positive for the virus last week.
As restaurants close or pivot to take-out, some have dropped their weekly orders from local farms. But Brian Helleberg, owner of downtown French spots Fleurie and Petit Pois, has taken a more creative tack. After donating food to his staff, he’s now repurposing his deliveries into a CSA. For $109, customers can purchase a weekly basket of kitchen staples, from veggies to meats, and can add other foods, including ready-to-go meals. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the restaurants’ longtime partner, City Schoolyard Garden.
Neighborhood Development Services closed all of the city’s basketball courts last week due to the coronavirus, but that order was seemingly not enough to keep locals from shooting hoops. So NDS removed the rims from the backboards at multiple courts, including Washington Park. Die-hard ballers will have to get creative.
Keep up the pace
Those who signed up for the Charlottesville Ten Miler don’t have to let months of training go down the drain. From now until April 4, all are welcome to participate in a virtual race by running 10 miles by themselves on the official course, or a different route, and recording their times on the Ten Miler website. Don’t want to leave the house? No worries—you can run it out on the treadmill.