With COVID-19 cases on the decline and vaccinations rapidly rising, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a loosening of some capacity restrictions starting April 1 that will benefit outdoor venues.
The move comes as 1-in-4 Virginians have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Northam announced in a briefing Tuesday.
Some measures will stay as Virginia continues with its “Safer at Home” strategy including encouraging teleworking, keeping a safe distance from others and wearing face masks.
For general social gatherings, the limit will increase to 50 people inside and 100 in outdoor settings. Currently, indoor gatherings may only have 10 people. Outside, only 25 individuals are permitted to gather together currently.
The biggest change comes with dropping a numerical cap of attendees at outdoor venues. On April 1, those places must still operate at a 30% capacity but the 1,000 current limit will no longer be in place. Inside venues will have a cap increased from 250 people to 500.
South Boston Speedway expects to see benefits from eliminating the 1,000 cap.
“South Boston Speedway is extremely pleased that Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has chosen to ease restrictions in the commonwealth and allow outdoor sports and entertainment venues to operate at 30 percent capacity with no cap starting April 1,” SBS officials wrote in a Tuesday afternoon statement.
Speedway officials also said they still plan to follow protocols established by the Centers for Disease Control and prevention.
The number of spectators allowed at recreational sporting events will increase from 25 to 100 people per field or 30% capacity — whichever is less for indoor settings — and from 250 to 500 people per field or 30 percent capacity, whichever is less for outdoor settings.
Last week, Northam issued preliminary guidance on in-person graduations and commencements, which included a cap of 5,000 people or 30% of the venue capacity for outdoor events, whichever is less. Events held indoors may have up to 500 people, or 30% of the venue capacity, whichever is less. Attendees must wear masks and follow other guidelines and safety protocols to ensure proper distancing.
“With increased vaccination capacity and our health metrics continuing to trend the right direction, we can safely take these targeted steps to ease certain mitigation measures,” Northam said. “Virginians have come so far over the past year, and now is not the time to simply throw the doors open or let down our guard. While some capacity limits will be increased, we must all remember to stay vigilant and work together to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.”
Virginia has now administered more than 3.1 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine and is currently giving approximately 50,000 shots per day.
Virginians are encouraged to make sure they are pre-registered at vaccinate.virginia.gov, or by calling 877-VAX-IN-VA, to ensure that the Virginia Department of Health has all the information to reach out when individuals are eligible to schedule vaccination appointments.