Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order on Monday, saying there will be no more gatherings of greater than 10 people.
Northam said the new restrictions are intended to stop the spread of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus.
“I want to be clear: Do not go out unless you need to go out. This is very different than wanting to go out,” Northam said in a news conference. “This has been a suggestion to Virginians. Today, it’s an order,” he added.
The order came after Virginia’s beaches and other recreational areas were “literally packed” with people despite the pandemic, Northam said.
The governor’s order closed Virginia’s beaches to everything except for exercising and fishing. Campgrounds were also shut down, and all colleges and universities were told to stop in-person classes.
The stay-at-home order allows people to leave their homes for groceries, essential items, banking, medical care, and more.
“We are at the beginning of a period of sacrifice,” added Northam in the news conference. “This is an unprecedented and difficult time; it will be hard for people, and I understand that. But I have faith in you as Virginians. We need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly.”
Anyone who doesn’t comply could be charged with a misdemeanor.
As of Monday afternoon, Virginia has recorded around 1,000 confirmed cases of the CCP virus, leading to around 25 deaths.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a similar declaration on Monday.
“This is a deadly public health crisis,” Hogan said in a news conference. “We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home. We are directing them to do so.”
The governor said the order includes restrictions on traveling outside of the state as well as riding on public transportation. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates the order will face misdemeanor charges, he said.
“Marylanders need to know that, unfortunately, we are only at the beginning of this crisis and it is going to get considerably worse before it gets better,” Hogan said. “I realize this is incredibly difficult on everyone in our state, but I want people to know that we have been through difficult challenges before and that we are going to get through this together.”
Marylanders can go out to get groceries and other essential items, seek medical care, go to the bank, and perform other duties. People can go on walks by themselves or with others with whom they reside.