Governor relaxes limits on outdoor events, other venues

FloydFest in 2018. Back when I had the energy to photograph such events.

Virginia Gov Ralph Northam Wednesday relaxed some of his Covid-19 regulations, including ending the midnight to 6 a.m. curfew — which many ignored — and will allow outdoor entertain venues to allow up to 1,000 attendees.

FloydFest announced it will return as an outdoor music festival this summer.

“The main focus we need to talk about is indoors versus outdoors,” Northam said in his scheduled briefing Wednesday. “We knot the spread of COVID occurs when people are in close proximity indoors where the ventilation is not so good.”

While outdoor events, including those in college stadiums, are capped at 1,000 or 30 percent of capacity — whichever is smaller — indoor functions in large arenas continue to have limits of up to 250 with masks and social distancing rules in effect.

High school gyms capacity remains at 25 people attending. Team members, coaches and certain support individuals are not included in that limit. Northam said if total cases of COVID-19 keep dropping and vaccine shots rise, he may lift the 1,000 attendee l limit entirely in April.

That would be good news for events like FloydFest, the Galax Fiddlers’ Convention and other events normally planned for summer but were canceled last year.

Northam cautions:

We don’t want to risk our progress by easing restrictions too quickly–not now when more and more Virginians are getting the protection of vaccines and not when variants that can infect more people more quickly are spreading.

The CEO of Richmond’s minor league baseball team — the Flying Squirrels — praised the moves by the governor.

“This is another positive step in a long a series of positive steps that is going to have to happen in order for us to get going on May the 4th so we’re pleased,” Parnell said.

High school football began earlier this week with smaller limits, which remain in place.

The Virginia Health Department Thursday announced an increase of 2,036 cases of COVID-19 in its daily report, up from several days of hikes below 2,000. Virginia has a total of 570,982 cases with 7,963 deaths throughout the Commonwealth. Floyd, after hikes that ranged from 1-5 over the last two weeks, reported none Thursday with the total at 728.

Northam’s mask mandate for those over age 6 continues for indoor public setting and outdoors if social distancing is not in place. Current rules for retail, fitness centers, large amusement venues and hair grooming services are not changed.

The changes go into effect on Monday, March 1. Watch Gov. Northam’s briefing below: