Governor Northam Announces Limited Capacity Increases for Indoor and Outdoor Gatherings, Some Entertainment Venues as Vaccinations Rise

Approximately one in four Virginians vaccinated with at least one dose

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that as COVID-19 vaccinations continue to rise in Virginia, certain sports and entertainment venues may begin to operate with additional capacity and indoor and outdoor gathering limits will increase starting Thursday, April 1. He amended Executive Order Seventy-Two with the next steps of the “Forward Virginia” plan to safely and gradually ease public health restrictions while mitigating the spread of the virus. More than two million Virginians, or approximately one in four people, have now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“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,” said Governor Northam. “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.”

The Commonwealth will maintain a Safer at Home strategy with continued mitigation strategies like physical distancing, teleworking, and universal mask requirements. Key changes in the Fourth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two include:

  • Social gatherings: The maximum number of individuals permitted in a social gathering will increase to 50 people for indoor settings and 100 people for outdoor settings. Social gatherings are currently limited to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Entertainment venues: All indoor and outdoor entertainment and public amusement venues must continue to operate at 30 percent capacity. Indoor venues must operate at 30 percent capacity or with a maximum of 500 people, an increase from the current cap of 250 people. Outdoor venues must operate at 30 percent capacity, with no specific cap on the number of attendees. These venues were previously limited to 30 percent capacity or up to 1,000 attendees, whichever was fewer. 
  • Recreational sporting events: The number of spectators allowed at recreational sporting events will increase from 25 to 100 people per field or 30 percent 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.
  • In-person graduation and commencement events: Last week, Governor Northam issued preliminary guidance on safe in-person graduations and commencements, which included a cap of 5,000 people or 30 percent of the venue capacity for outdoor events, whichever is less. Events held indoors may have up to 500 people, or 30 percent of the venue capacity, whichever is less. Attendees must wear masks and follow other guidelines and safety protocols to ensure proper distancing.

The full text of Fourth Amended Executive Order Seventy-Two and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine is available here. Updated guidelines for specific sectors can be found here. Visit virginia.gov/coronavirus/forwardvirginia for more information and answers to frequently asked questions.

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 strongly 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 relevant information to reach out when individuals are eligible to schedule vaccination appointments.

Interstate 95 Lanes Shut Down Due to Accident Investigations

SUSSEX, VA: On today's date (March 23), the Virginia State Police was called upon to investigate two major accidents on Interstate 95, which caused the roadway/lane to be closed for several hours. 

At approximately 3:11 a.m., the driver of a 2013 Volvo tractor trailer, Darrell Phillips, was traveling southbound Interstate 95,when he ran off the roadway, struck the guardrail, entered the median and overturned in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95, at the 31 mile marker. The driver was entrapped in the vehicle but escaped uninjured. Phillips, 53 YOA, of Delaware, was charged with reckless driving, failure to maintain proper control of vehicle. 


Shortly after the accident in the southbound lanes of Interstate 95, a single vehicle accident occured in the northbound lanes of Interstate 95 at the 28 mile marker. The driver of a 2005 Nissan Titan, Christopher Smidt, was pulling an enclosed trailer carrying two Harley Davidson motorcycles, when he ran off the roadway and into the Nottoway River. Smidt and his passenger were able to exit the vehicle prior to it being submerged completely into the river. Both occupants were uninjured from the crash.  The Virginia State Police Search and Recovery Team were called to assist in recovering the vehicles from the water.

Smidt is from New Jersey and the investigation is on-going.

Photos provided are  property of the Virginia State Police which grants permission for its usage and publication.

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