On Monday, Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam announced a statewide stay-at-home order effective immediately that will remain in place until June 10, which is just over 10 weeks from the start date.
"I want to be clear: Do not go out unless you need to go out. This is very different than wanting to go out," he said. "This has been a suggestion to Virginians. Today, it's an order."
The order directs all Virginians to remain at their residence except for "allowable travel" such as for work, to seek medical attention, to buy groceries or household supplies, to care for family members, or to engage in physical exercise within social distancing guidelines.
Public and private gatherings of more than 10 people, such as "parties, celebrations, religious, or other social events" are also prohibited.
The state's beaches have now been closed except if being used for exercising or fishing, and the state's campgrounds have also been closed.
The stay-at-home order, which builds on an existing order, Order 53, allows "essential retail businesses" to remain open during regular business hours. Order 53 also said: "Any brick and mortar retail business not listed [as essential retail businesses] may continue to operate but must limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment."
Commenting on the announcement, Washington Free Beacon writer Stephen Gutowski noted that "the order's language is confusing," especially as it pertains to nonessential businesses.
Indeed, the order's language does not specifically mention whether non-"essential" businesses will still be permitted to operate, but during the news conference, Northam indicated that Order 53's guidelines for non-"essential" businesses will continue.
According to the Virginian-Pilot, Northam is not intent on putting people in jail but said that those who violate the order's restrictions could be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a $2,500 fine and could result in up to 1 year in jail.
You can watch the full news conference announcement here: