Richmond, Va., Mar 25, 2020 / 10:00 am
Virginia governor Ralph Northam has made it a criminal offense to attend church services of more than 10 people. An executive order went into effect in the commonwealth on Tuesday, March 24, making any non-essential gatherings a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail or a fine of $2,500.
Executive Order 53 states "All gatherings of more than 10 people are banned statewide, beginning at 11:59 PM on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. This does not include gatherings that involve the provision of health care or medical services, access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks; operations of the media; law enforcement agencies; or operations of government."
The executive order expires at 11:59 p.m. on April 23, 2020, and is subject to change at any time in response to ongoing concerns for public health during the coronavirus pandemic.
In the order, Gov. Northam (D) ordered all restaurants, breweries, food courts, farmers markets, and bars to close to the public, and shift to delivery and takeout only. Only retail businesses deemed "essential" were permitted to remain open.