Governor and Health Commissioner Issue Public Health Emergency Order to Enforce 10-Patron Limit
Governor and Health Commissioner Issue Public Health Emergency Order to Enforce 10-Patron Limit
Order gives law enforcement the ability to enforce 10-patron limit in restaurants, fitness centers, and theaters

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam and State Health Commissioner M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA today issued a public health emergency order prohibiting more than 10 patrons in restaurants, fitness centers, and theaters. The order gives local and state law enforcement the ability to enforce this ban, which was announced by the Governor earlier today, if needed.

“I hope that everyone will have the common sense to stay home tonight and in the days ahead,” said Governor Northam. “This order will ensure that state and local officials have the tools they need to keep people safe.

WHEREAS, the State Health Commissioner declared COVID-19 a disease of public health threat on February 7, 2020; and

WHEREAS, Virginia Governor Ralph S. Northam declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19 on March 12, 2020 in Executive Order No. 51 by virtue of the authority vested in the Governor by Article V, Section 7 of the Constitution of Virginia and by §§ 44-146.17 and 44-75.1 of the Code of Virginia; and

WHEREAS, the Governor and State Health Commissioner issued Order of Public Health Emergency One on March 17, 2020, as amended on March 20, 2020, declaring a public health emergency; and

WHEREAS, COVID-19 spreads from person-to-person, transmitted via respiratory droplets, and can be spread from an infected person who does not have symptoms to another person; and

WHEREAS, no current vaccine or known treatment options exist at this time; and

WHEREAS, the supply chain in the Commonwealth for health care personal protective equipment (PPE), to include gowns, masks, face shields and respirators, has been severely disrupted by the significant increased use of such equipment worldwide in response to COVID-19, such that there are now critical shortages of this equipment for health care workers; and

WHEREAS, it is anticipated that due to the continuing spread of COVID-19, a critical shortage of needed hospital beds will result; and

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Virginia seeks to curtail the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Commonwealth, protect our health care workers, and ensure sufficient hospital beds necessary to serve Virginians’ medical needs; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to § 32.1-13 of the Code of Virginia, the State Health Commissioner, acting for the State Board of Health when it is not in session pursuant to § 32.1-20 of the Code of Virginia, is vested with authority to make separate orders to meet any emergency not provided for by general regulations, for the purpose of suppressing conditions dangerous to the public health and communicable, contagious, and infectious diseases.

NOW THEREFORE, the Governor and State Health Commissioner hereby issue this Order prohibiting all inpatient and outpatient surgical hospitals licensed under 12 VAC 5-410, freestanding endoscopy centers, physicians’ offices, and dental, orthodontic, and endodontic offices in the Commonwealth from providing procedures and surgeries that require PPE, which if delayed, are not anticipated to cause harm to the patient by negatively affecting the patient's health outcomes, or leading to disability or death. This does not include outpatient visits delivered in hospital-based clinics.

This Order does not apply to the full suite of family planning services and procedures nor to treatment for patients with emergency or urgent needs. Inpatient and outpatient surgical hospitals licensed under 12 VAC 5-410, free-standing endoscopy centers, physicians’ offices, and dental, orthodontic, and endodontic offices may perform any procedure or surgery that if delayed or canceled would result in the patient's condition worsening. Outpatient surgical hospitals are encouraged to work with their local inpatient hospitals to assist with surge capacity needs.

Any willful violation or refusal, failure, or neglect to comply with this Order, issued pursuant to § 32.1-13 of the Code of Virginia, is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor pursuant to § 32.1-27 of the Code of Virginia. The State Health Commissioner may also seek injunctive relief in circuit court for violation of this Order pursuant to § 32.1-27 of the Code of Virginia.

WHEREAS, this Order shall remain in full force and effect until April 24, 2020. Citation of this Order shall be Commonwealth of Virginia Order of Public Health Emergency Two.

Given under my hand and under the Seal of the Office of the State Health Commissioner of the Commonwealth of Virginia this 25th Day of March, 2020

Ralph S. Northam, Governor
Commonwealth of Virginia

M. Norman Oliver, MD, MA, State Health Commissioner
Commonwealth of Virginia

View/Download original orders (PDF):


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