‘A period of sacrifice’

Published 2:53 pm Monday, March 23, 2020

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Gov. Ralph Northam on Monday announced more drastic measures to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Virginia.

Among the announcements was Northam’s decision to keep Virginia schools closed for the remainder of the academic year. On March 13, he had ordered schools to close for two weeks, and Monday was the start of the second week of that.

“We do not make these decisions lightly,” Northam stated. “COVID-19 is serious and we must act. Unfortunately the virus does not respect national borders and state borders; it is everywhere, or it will be soon.”

Northam said the state Department of Education would provide guidance to school divisions on how to move forward, and each school division would have a variety of choices to make based on what would be best in its particular circumstance.

Northam also announced further restrictions on businesses:

Recreational and entertainment establishments, as well as personal services like salons and spas that cannot maintain social distancing, must close as of midnight Tuesday, he announced.

Restaurants must cease any dine-in services they are still doing and provide takeout, curbside service and delivery only.

Non-essential brick-and-mortar retail establishments must maintain 10 or fewer patrons in the building at a time, maintain social distancing and adhere to stricter sanitation procedures, or they also must close.

Essential businesses, like grocery stores and pharmacies, must adhere to social distancing and increased sanitation.

Northam said additional guidance on the difference between essential and non-essential establishments would be announced later today.

“We are moving into a period of sacrifice,” Northam stated. “We all need to take care of each other from afar, because social distancing is the only path forward.”

He called on all Virginians to do their part — stay home except for shopping for essential items and working in essential roles. Wash your hands and practice social distancing when you do have to go out.

“I am calling on you to do just that,” the governor stated. “We must put aside what we want and replace it with what we need. This will change every part of our life and all the daily patterns we’re used to. It will require all of us to live differently.

“We will get through this together. We will win this battle.”