This page is part of our Coronavirus (COVID-19) in Virginia updates and support
Forward Virginia: Guidelines

Frequently Asked Questions

Universal Mask Mandate: All Virginians aged five and over are required to wear masks over their nose and mouth in indoor settings shared with others and when outdoors within six feet of another person All employees not just those in customer facing areas must also wear masks while working if 6 feet of physical distance cannot be maintained between others. This is an expansion of Virginia’s mask mandate, which has been in place since May 29. It is aligned with most recent CDC guidelines, which recommend universal wearing of masks with two layers of fabric that cover the nose and mouth.

Social Gatherings: All social gatherings must be limited to 50 individuals indoors and 100 individuals outdoors, which is a change from the previous cap of 10 individuals indoors and 25 individuals outdoors. A “social gathering” includes, but is not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events, whether they occur indoors or outdoors. This does not apply to religious services, employment settings, or educational settings such as instructional settings, graduations, commencements, and school performances. Capacity at restaurants and retail stores are already governed by strict social distancing requirements, and are also not limited by these restrictions.

Other Restrictions: Fitness and Exercise group classes are now limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors, and  recreational sports are allowed with strict spectator limits, and business capacity is limited by the type of business.

Teleworking: Employees that can telework are strongly encouraged to do so.

Universal Mask Mandate

No, Individuals occupying a discrete, separate space within a building are not required to wear a mask so long as they are alone in the space. In all other indoor areas shared by others, masks must be worn.

No, employees must wear masks while at work as required by Sixth Amended Executive Order 72. However, employers who are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act or other comparable federal laws must continue to follow mandates that require reasonable accommodations for employees when necessary.

Yes. Generally, the restrictions and mitigation measures in Sixth Amended Executive Order 72 are a floor, not a ceiling. Therefore, any entity, whether private or public, may adopt a mask policy that is more stringent than the Executive Order so long as the entity’s policy does not violate state or federal law. An entity, however, may not adopt a policy that is less stringent than Sixth Amended Executive Order.

Sixth Amended Executive Order 72 links Virginia’s outdoor mask requirement to the most recent CDC guidelines, which can be found here. The CDC guidelines state that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks outdoors when alone or in small gatherings.

The CDC does not define “small” gathering in its guidance.  Virginians, however, should exercise their best judgement in determining whether a gathering is “small.”  Generally, it is recommended that a “small” gathering consistent of less than 25 individuals.

Vaccines

No, Sixth Amended Executive Order 72 does not limit the provision of health care of medical services. Therefore, there is no prohibition on the number of people who may attend clinics and vaccination events in Sixth Amended Executive Order 72.  Attendees must wear masks, and organizers should consider providing alternate options (outside) for those who cannot wear masks. Social distancing should be observed to the greatest extent possible, with extra attention given to crowd flow and queue lines.

General Questions for Businesses

What businesses are allowed to be open?

All businesses may remain open subject to the sector-specific restrictions in the Guidelines for Businesses. For more a more detailed explanation, see the subsection below for your business and the sector-specific guidance that applies to your business sector and section I of Sixth Amended Executive Order 72.

Essential Retail:

The following Essential Retail Businesses may continue to remain open during normal business hours and must comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the Sector Specific Guidelines, which include, but are not limited to, strict distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements:

  • Grocery, pharmacy, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations
  • Medical supply retailers
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers
  • Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers
  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers
  • Beer, wine, and liquor stores
  • Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores
  • Retail located within healthcare facilities
  • Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions
  • Pet and feed stores
  • Printing and office supply stores
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners.

Nonessential Retail:

Non-essential retail businesses may operate in a limited capacity and must follow the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the sector-specific guidance, which include, but are not limited to, strict distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements. 

Food and Dining:

Restaurants and beverage services may operate with at least six feet of spacing between tables. Dining rooms must be closed between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m., and in-person alcohol sales must end at 12:00 midnight as well. Delivery and takeout services are unaffected. Furthermore, restaurants are prohibited from hosting over 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors in a party in accordance with the social gathering ban. However, they may still have more people on their premises if the applicable physical distancing requirements allow. Restaurants may now also seat patrons at the bar so long as six feet of distance is kept between parties.

Farmers markets may operate with six feet of physical distance maintained between patrons (including between tables and persons on public sidewalks). 

Personal Care and Barbershops:

Personal care and personal grooming services may operate with six feet of separation between stations and clients.

Fitness and Recreation:

Fitness centers, gymnasiums, recreation centers, indoor sports facilities, and indoor exercise facilities may operate at up to 75% of the lowest occupancy load. Attendance at group exercise and fitness classes must be limited to the lesser of 75% of the lowest occupancy load or 50 individuals indoors and 100 individuals outdoors.

Indoor and outdoor swimming pools may operate at up to 75% occupancy load with at least ten feet of physical distance between individuals not from the same Family, as defined in Sixth Amended Executive Order 72.

Private campgrounds may operate while limiting on-site social gatherings to less than 50 individuals indoors and 100 individuals outdoors.

Entertainment and Amusement Businesses:

Performing arts venues, concert venues, sports venues, movie theaters, drive-in entertainment, botanical gardens, fairs, carnivals, museums, aquariums, historic horse racing facilities, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, trampoline parks, arts and crafts facilities, escape rooms, public and private social clubs, amusement parks, zoos, and all other entertainment centers and places of public amusement may operate with occupancy limited to the lesser of 30% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 500 attendees for indoor facilities, and 30% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy for outdoor facilities. If no occupancy load has been determined, a ratio of 40 square feet per person shall be used to determine occupancy limits. Only square footage that is likely to be accessed may be included. For example, a 100,000 square foot outdoor venue would have an occupancy load of 2,500 – of which no more than 30% (750 persons) shall be permitted

Attendees do not include staff, players, volunteers, or performers necessary for the operation of the business. Attendees do include spectators and patrons.

For all entertainment and amusement businesses, private bookings are limited to 50 attendees indoors and 100 outdoors in accordance with the social gathering ban.

Livestock Shows:

Horse and livestock shows may operate at up to 30% minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 500 persons for indoor facilities and 30% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy for outdoor facilities with six feet of physical distance maintained between persons not from the same family, as defined in Sixth Amended Executive Order 72. If no occupancy load has been determined, a ratio of 40 square feet per person shall be used to determine occupancy limits. Only square footage that is likely to be accessed may be included. For example, a 100,000 square foot outdoor venue would have an occupancy load of 2,500 – of which no more than 30% (750 persons) shall be permitted.

All other Businesses:

All other businesses may remain open but must follow the Guidelines for All Business Sectors, which include, but are not limited to, strict distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements.

All workplaces must follow the Guidelines for All Business Sectors, including the recommendations for physical distancing, enhanced cleaning and sanitization, and enhanced workplace safety.

The Emergency Vendor List includes vendors used by the Va. Dept. of Emergency Management (VDEM) and Va. Dept. of General Services – Division of Purchases & Supply (DPS) during a 'state of public emergency'.  The list may be utilized to quickly obtain supplies and services to provide assistance to those in need. 

This list can be found here: https://dgs.virginia.gov/procurement/resources/eva-emergency-vendor-list/

The following sources provide additional workplace guidance for operations that remain open:

Restaurant and Beverage Services

No, restaurants in Virginia were governed by strict social distancing and sanitization requirements, and those requirements will remain in place. All restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms must continue close their dining rooms between 12:00 midnight and 5:00 a.m., but may be open for takeout and delivery.

Restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and farmers' markets may operate both indoor and outdoor dining areas, including bar seating, as long as all parties are separated with at least six feet between parties. (The six feet cannot include the space taken up by the seated guest.) If tables are not moveable, seat parties at least six feet apart, including at the bar and in the bar area. Spacing must also allow for physical distancing from areas outside of the facility’s control (i.e., provide physical distancing from persons on public sidewalks). Employers must provide masks for employees, and they must be worn in customer dining and service areas. 

Congregating areas of restaurants must be closed to patrons except for through-traffic. Patrons may be seated at the bar as long as a minimum of six feet is provided between parties.

Dining rooms must be closed between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 5:00 am, and in-person alcohol sales must end at 12:00 midnight as well. Delivery and takeout services are unaffected.

Food and beverage establishments are prohibited from hosting over 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors in a party in accordance with the social gathering ban. However, they may still have more people on their premises if the applicable physical distancing requirements allow. 

The detailed set of requirements for food and beverage establishments may be found here.

Yes, self-service is permitted with continuous monitoring by trained staff required at food lines, and serving utensils must be changed hourly during peak meal times. Facilities must provide hand sanitizer at self-service food bars, and employees and patrons must use barriers (e.g., deli tissue) when touching utensils.

Yes, self-service of beverages is permitted and touchless dispensing is no longer required. As a frequently touched surface, certain elements of beverage dispensing equipment must be cleaned and disinfected every 60 minutes during operation.

No. For back-to-back booths, an alternating seating system needs to be implemented to ensure six feet of separation between individuals.

No. Shielding is not a suitable alternative to maintaining six feet of physical distance between separate parties.

Yes. You may seat customers at a bar so long as six feet of distance is kept between parties. Non-bar seating in the bar area (i.e., tables or counter seats that do not line up to a bar or food service area) may also be used for customer seating as long as a minimum of six feet is provided between parties at tables.

Yes. Reusable menus, along with tabletops and credit card/bill folders, are allowed, but must be disinfected between patrons.

Employee masking, signage, and physical distancing requirements apply to this space. Table spacing must allow for six feet of physical distancing between parties and from areas outside the facility’s control (e.g., provide six feet of physical distancing from persons on public sidewalks or in an adjoining restaurants’ outdoor dining area).

The building and zoning requirements of your locality apply to any proposed change to your customer seating capacity (e.g., tented area, picnic tables).

Masks are required in outdoor dining areas when six feet of distancing cannot be maintained, and can be removed when actively eating or drinking.

Modified dining areas using a tent or other artificial enclosure where the tent flaps are down or where air is recirculated through an HVAC system are considered indoor spaces. In these areas, patrons must wear a mask while not eating or drinking.

If live musicians are performing at an establishment, they must remain at least ten feet from patrons and staff and wear masks.

Brick and Mortar Retail

Non-essential retail businesses must comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the Sector Specific Guidelines, which include, but are not limited to, strict distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements. Employers must provide masks for employees and they must be worn at all times.

Non-essential retail businesses are brick-and-mortar operations that consist of everything except the following:

  • Grocery, pharmacy, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations;
  • Medical supply retailers;
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology;
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers;
  • Home improvement, hardware, building material, and building supply retailers;
  • Lawn and garden equipment retailers;
  • Beer, wine, and liquor stores; 
  • Retail functions of gas stations and convenience stores
  • Retail located within healthcare facilities
  • Banks and other financial institutions with retail functions;
  • Pet and feed stores
  • Printing and office supply stores
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners

All essential retail businesses must comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the Sector Specific Guidelines, which include, but are not limited to, strict distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements. Additionally, employers at essential retail businesses must provide masks for employees, which must be worn at all times.

Personal Care and Grooming

Personal care and personal grooming businesses must comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the Sector Specific Guidelines for personal care and grooming operations, which include, but are not limited to, strict distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements. They must also limit their operations to provide at least six feet between stations or between clients. Employees, service providers, and clients must wear masks except when treating the areas of the nose and mouth.

Employees and customers of personal care and personal grooming facilities must wear masks at all times. Employers and clients should consider using masks that are secured with ear loops.  If in the course of providing services, the tie or loop securing your clients masks must be moved, ask that your client move the tie or loop temporarily while holding the mask in place.  Be careful that you and your clients do not touch their eyes, nose, or mouth when adjusting the tie or loop.

No. If stations are fixed and cannot be moved to maintain six feet of separation, then you will need to close enough stations to provide at least six feet of separation between work areas.

Private Campgrounds

Private campgrounds must comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the Sector Specific Guidelines for campgrounds, which include, but are not limited to, strict distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements. Campgrounds may rent lots for short- or long-term stays, and day passes are allowed. All employees must wear masks. Areas of the campground covered by other sections of Sixth Amended Executive Order 72 must abide by those requirements. The detailed set of requirements for private campgrounds may be found here.

Exercise and Fitness

Exercise and fitness facilities must comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the Sector Specific Guidelines, which include, but are not limited to, strict distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements. These facilities may operate at up to 75% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy. Individuals must maintain ten feet of physical distancing.

All group exercise and fitness classes must limit participants to the lesser of 75% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 50 individuals for indoor classes and 100 for outdoor classes, including instructors.

Equipment should be spaced ten feet apart in order for patrons to maintain physical distance. All staff should maintain at least ten feet of separation from patrons and each other at all times. Facilities are required to perform thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all equipment between each customer, and prohibit the use of equipment that cannot be thoroughly disinfected (e.g., climbing ropes, exercise bands). 

Facilities should also prohibit the use of equipment requiring more than one person to operate, unless those operating are from the same Family, as defined in Sixth Amended Executive Order 72 (e.g., free weights requiring a spotter). This equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between customers.

Yes. The total number of attendees (including both participants and instructors) in all group exercise and fitness classes cannot exceed 75% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 50 persons for indoor classes and 100 persons for outdoor classes.

All employees are required to wear masks over their nose and mouth, such as those required by CDC Use of Cloth Face Coverings guidance. Lifeguards responding to distressed swimmers are exempt from this requirement.

 Patrons are encouraged to wear masks. They may be removed while exercising as long as ten feet of physical distancing is observed.

Patrons should be screened prior to admission to exercise and fitness centers. Screening can be conducted by asking the patron about COVID-19 symptoms, close contact with persons with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, and whether the patron has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days. See VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Patrons.

Healthcare workers using appropriate personal protective equipment during the care of a COVID-19 patient are not considered exposed to COVID-19. These healthcare workers should not be excluded from the facility based on contact with a COVID-19 patient.

Recreational Sports

Yes. Indoor and outdoor recreational sports activities, which include instruction, practice, and competitive events, may occur as long as participants and organizers comply with the following requirements:

The total number of spectators at an indoor event is limited to the lesser of 30% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy for the venue or 100 spectators per field/court. For sports played outdoors, the number of spectators is limited to the lesser of 30% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy for the venue or 1000 spectators per field/court.

Spectators must wear masks at all times and maintain six feet of physical distance between non-family members.

Organizers must conduct screening of coaches, officials, staff, and players for COVID-19 symptoms prior to admission to the venue/facility.

There is no limit to the number of participants who may engage in a recreational sports activity, except that races or marathons must use a ratio of 40 square feet per person to determine occupancy limits. Only square footage that is likely to be accessed may be included. For example, a 100,000 square foot race course would have an occupancy load of 2,500 – of which no more than 30% (750 persons) shall be permitted. Indoor races and marathon organizers must stagger starts and separate runners into groups of 50 or fewer. Outdoor races, such as cross country races or marathons may have starting groups of up to 100. Participants and organizers of recreational sports are highly encouraged to consult the Virginia Department of Health’s “Considerations for Recreational Sports” webpage, which can be found here, in order to reduce the risk of exposure and spread of the virus.

Coaches, officials, and players should be screened prior to admission to recreational sports. Screening of adults can be conducted by asking about COVID-19 symptoms, whether the person has had close contact with persons with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, and whether the person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days. See VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Patrons.

Screening of children should be conducted according to CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-childcare.html#ScreenChildren.

Healthcare workers using appropriate personal protective equipment during the care of a COVID-19 patient are not considered exposed to COVID-19. These healthcare workers should not be excluded from playing recreational sports based on contact with a COVID-19 patient.

An indoor venue is limited to the participants plus 100 spectators per field/court, with the total number of spectators not exceeding 30% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy. An outdoor venue is limited to the participants (players, coaches, staff) and spectators so long as the number of spectators is limited to the lesser of 30% of the occupancy load of the certificate of occupancy for the venue or 500 spectators per field.

Spectators must wear masks over their nose and mouth at all times and maintain 10 feet of physical distance between non-family members as defined in Sixth Amended Executive Order 72.

Any event attendee that is not participating in the sport being played is considered a spectator—they are welcome to gather at recreational sporting events, but they must abide the spectator limits.

Races or marathons may use a ratio of 40 square feet per person to determine occupancy limits – only square footage that is likely to be accessed may be included. A 100,000 square foot race course, for example, would have an occupancy load of 2,500 - of which no more than 30% (750 persons) shall be permitted. Indoor races and marathon organizers must stagger starts and separate runners into groups of 50 or fewer. Outdoor races, such as cross country races or marathons may have starting groups of up to 100.

Entertainment and Public Amusement

Performing arts venues, concert venues, sports venues, movie theaters, drive-in entertainment, botanical gardens, fairs, carnivals, museums, aquariums, historic horse racing facilities, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, trampoline parks, arts and crafts facilities, escape rooms, public and private social clubs, amusement parks, zoos, and all other entertainment centers and places of public amusement may operate with occupancy limited to the lesser of 30% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 500 attendees indoors. Outdoor venues may operate at 30% of the minimum occupancy capacity listed on the certificate of occupancy. If no occupancy load has been determined, a ratio of 40 square feet per person shall be used to determine occupancy limits. Only square footage that is likely to be accessed may be included. For example, a 100,000 square foot outdoor venue would have an occupancy load of 2,500 – of which no more than 30% (750 persons) shall be permitted. Amusement venues must comply with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the Sector Specific Guidelines, which include, but are not limited to, strict distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements.

For all entertainment and amusement businesses, private bookings are limited to 50 attendees indoors and 100 outdoors in accordance with the social gathering ban, and ten feet of distance should be maintained between persons not from the same Family, as defined in Sixth Amended Executive Order 72.

Attendees at entertainment and public amusement venues does not include staff, players, volunteers, or performers necessary for the operation of the business. Attendees do include spectators and patrons.

No. A venue can conduct their normal course of business if it is meeting its occupancy load requirements. However, if a business chooses to host a private event, the event is limited to 50 patrons indoors and 100 patrons outdoors in accordance with the social gathering ban.

Yes, indoor entertainment venues may operate with occupancy limited to the lesser of 30% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 500 attendees indoors. Outdoor venues may operate at 30% of the minimum occupancy capacity listed on the certificate of occupancy. If no occupancy load has been determined, a ratio of 40 square feet per person shall be used to determine occupancy limits. Only square footage that is likely to be accessed may be included. For example, a 100,000 square foot outdoor venue would have an occupancy load of 2,500 – of which no more than 30% (750 persons) shall be permitted.

Hookah activities are allowed if the hookah paraphernalia itself is not shared, is disinfected between users, and participants are 10' from others not in their party.

Swimming Pools

Indoor and outdoor swimming pools may be open at up to 75% capacity for lap swimming, diving, recreational swimming and instruction. All patrons must observe ten feet of physical distancing from persons not from their household. Seating may be provided on pool decks with at least ten feet of spacing between persons who are not members of the same household. All seating must be sanitized between uses.

Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools, saunas, and interactive play features must remain closed. Lazy rivers may operate if tubing is disinfected between uses and the facility can ensure physical distancing in the river feature.

Wading pools and waterslides may open, provided physical distancing can be observed.

Instructors are allowed to have physical contact with participants and guardians or parents are allowed to hold/support the child during Learn to Swim lessons.

No. There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can be spread to people through the water in pools, hot tubs, spas, or water play areas. Proper operation and maintenance (including disinfection with chlorine and bromine) of these facilities should inactivate the virus in the water.

When making a water rescue or assist, lifeguards are strongly encouraged to use an extension or reaching method (simple assists) for initial contact as opposed to person-to-person direct contact. These simple assists may include the use of a reaching pole, rescue tube (rescue flotation device) or a throwing device such as a ring buoy with line. Equipment extensions may be used in shallow or deep water during an in-water swimming rescue to maintain distance between the rescuer and a distressed or drowning victim. Simple assists may also be reaching assists (hand to wrist/arm) from deck, in-water or water craft followed by pulling/towing the distressed swimmer/drowning victim to safety. Additional training is required to practice these skills along with verbal cues from the rescuer.

For water emergencies where a distressed swimmer or drowning victim cannot accept or hold on to extension equipment, lifeguards should consider the safest method from their training standard of care and limit person to person contact. Appropriate and mandatory PPE (e.g., as advised by The Red Cross) should be considered for land and water emergency care.

Whenever possible, lifeguards participating in initial and in-service training sessions should use water rescue manikins, CPR mannequins, diving bricks, or other simulation equipment. Physical distancing may not be possible for some skills or when mannequins are unavailable. In all training sessions, efforts should still be in place to minimize close proximity and contact of students and instructors.

Patrons should be screened prior to admission to the pool. Screening of adults can be conducted by asking the patron about COVID-19 symptoms, close contact with persons with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, and whether the patron has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days. See VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Patrons.

Screening of children should be conducted according to CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-childcare.html#ScreenChildren

Healthcare workers using appropriate personal protective equipment during the care of a COVID-19 patient are not considered exposed to COVID-19. These healthcare workers should not be excluded from swimming pools based on contact with a COVID-19 patient.

Horse and Livestock Shows

Trainers, officials, participants, and other attendees should be screened prior to admission to horse and livestock shows. Screening of adults can be conducted by asking about COVID-19 symptoms, whether the person has had close contact with persons with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, and whether the person has tested positive for COVID-19 in the past 10 days. See VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Patrons.

Screening of children should be conducted according to CDC guidance: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/guidance-for-childcare.html#ScreenChildren.

Healthcare workers using appropriate personal protective equipment during the care of a COVID-19 patient are not considered exposed to COVID-19. These healthcare workers should not be excluded from venues/facilities based on contact with a COVID-19 patient.

Other Businesses

Hotels may continue to operate. Any events held at a hotel are subject to the gathering ban requirements that limit all in-person social gatherings to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. Any food and beverage, pool, or fitness facility within a hotel must follow the guidelines provided for those business categories, which may be found here.

Non-essential retail may operate provided that six feet of physical distance is maintained between patrons.  Any food and beverage or personal care facility within a shopping mall must follow the guidelines provided for those business categories, which may be found here.

Auto repair and service are considered essential businesses and are not impacted. Sales and showrooms are considered non-essential and must follow the guidelines for nonessential retail businesses, which can be found here.

Conferences not required by law must be limited by the host to no more than 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

Workplace Protections

No. Employers should not require sick employees to provide a COVID-19 test result or a healthcare provider’s note to validate their illness, qualify for sick leave, or to return to work. Healthcare provider offices and medical facilities may be extremely busy and not able to provide such documentation in a timely manner.

Employers that do not currently offer sick leave to some or all of their employees are encouraged to draft non-punitive “emergency sick leave” policies. Ensure that sick leave policies are flexible and consistent with public health guidance and that employees are aware of and understand these policies.

All businesses should screen employees prior to a shift. Screening can be handled by requiring employees to conduct self-checks (asking the employee to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms, including measuring temperature before each work shift) before reporting to work. For more information, see VDH Interim Guidance for Daily COVID-19 Screening of Employees (Non-healthcare Workers).

Gatherings

A social gathering includes all public and private, in-person gatherings of more than 50 individuals indoors and 100 individuals outdoors who are not members of the same household. Gatherings include, but are not limited to, parties, celebrations, or other social events.

For purposes of gathering restrictions, a Social Gathering does not include:

  • Individuals performing functions related to their employment;
  • Individuals assembled in an educational setting, which includes instructional settings, graduation and commencement ceremonies, and school performances such as theatrical and musical performances; and
  • Religious services.

Social gatherings must be limited to no more than 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

A full set of best practices for allowable social gatherings may be found here.

The social gathering ban does not apply to businesses. However, some businesses (ie, restaurants) are prohibited from hosting larger parties but may still have more people on their premises if the applicable physical distancing requirements allow. The gathering ban DOES apply to private parties and social events that may be hosted at restaurants, breweries, wineries, or entertainment and public amusement venues -- for example, wedding receptions.

The social gathering ban does not apply to religious services (such as worship services, wedding ceremonies, and funerals), education instructional settings, or employment settings.

Religious services of more than 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors are required to implement distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements, including seating parties a minimum of six feet apart and mandatory masks. A full list of the requirements can be found in section I, subsection B, paragraph 2, subparagraph a of Sixth Amended Executive Order 72.

Institutions of higher education are governed by their specific instructional plans, which have been approved by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia.

P-12 schools are governed by their specific instructional plans, which have been approved by local school boards.

Graduation and commencement ceremonies are subject to the Graduations and Commencements guidelines, which can be found here.

School performances are subject to the School Performances guidelines, which can be found here.

Workplaces are subject to the restrictions in section I of Sixth Amended Executive Order 72 along with the Guidelines for All Business Sectors and the Sector Specific Guidelines, where applicable.

Social gatherings that occur in conjunction with another event that is not subject to the gathering restriction are gatherings and are limited to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. For example, any social gathering held in connection with a religious service, like a wedding reception, is subject to the restriction on public and private in-person gatherings. Social gatherings that take place at schools or at work (i.e. office parties or school dances) must also be limited to no more than 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors.

Graduation and commencement ceremonies can be held, but must follow additional guidelines found here.

Religious Services

There is not a limit to the number of participants who can attend a religious service. However, if the religious service has more than 50 individuals indoors and 100 individuals outdoors, the service is subject to the distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements found in section I, subsection B, paragraph 2, subparagraph a of Sixth Amended Executive Order 72, which include, but are not limited to, seating parties a minimum of six feet apart and mandatory masks.

Any social gathering held in connection with a religious service (for example, a reception following a religious wedding) is not considered part of the religious service and is subject to the generally applicable ban on public and private in-person gatherings. 

Virginians are encouraged to seek alternative means of attending religious services if possible, such as virtually or via “drive-through” worship.

Wearing a mask is mandatory for religious services. The exemption for “religious rituals” is intended to allow for practices, including but not limited to communion, where masks must be removed temporarily.

Religious services such as wedding ceremonies and funeral rites with more than 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors may occur subject to the distancing, cleaning, and signage requirements, found in section I, subsection B, paragraph 2, subparagraph a of Sixth Amended Executive Order 72.

Any social gathering held in connection with a religious service is subject to the generally applicable ban on public and private in-person gatherings.

Attendees may travel to their place of worship, park in the parking lot and listen to the religious message while remaining in their vehicles. Participants must remain in their vehicle at all times, except as necessary to visit a restroom. Any interaction by the faith leaders and those in the vehicles must be strictly limited, such as using physical distancing methods when passing out palms, serving Holy Communion using sealed or self-contained elements, and priests directing congregants to place ashes or water on their own forehead as opposed to priests applying the ashes or water directly on the foreheads of the congregants. Any objects used for collecting monetary offerings shall not be passed from attendee to attendee but may be offered to attendees in a vehicle as long as the object stays in the possession of the person assisting with collection. Appropriate measures should be taken for the safety of those functioning outside of the cars. Faith communities should also adhere to any noise ordinances.

Implementation and Enforcement

Sixth Amended Executive Order 72 goes into effect on Friday, April 29, 2021, and will remain in effect until amended or rescinded.

Governor Northam announced that Sixth Amended Executive Order 72 will go into effect at midnight on Saturday, May 15, 2021. The Order will include significant loosening of restrictions. It can be viewed here.

The Governor, in consultation with State Health Commissioner Oliver, may adjust this Order or issue new orders as needed, given the quickly-changing public health situation. The Governor is keeping all options on the table, and should the health data demand fewer or more restrictions, he will put those into effect when necessary.

 

Sixth Amended Executive Order 72 will be enforced primarily by the Virginia Department of Health with support from state and local law enforcement and any state agency that has regulatory authority over a business found to be in violation of the Order.

No. Virginia law enforcement will not require documentation from individuals that are traveling for an essential purpose.

If there is a conflict between the regulations issued by DOLI and Sixth Amended Executive Order 72, Sixth Amended Executive Order 72 supersedes any conflict.

Regions or localities may submit a request to the Governor for a slower implementation between phases, but no region or locality may enact fewer restrictions on businesses than the Commonwealth.