Gov. Ralph Northam issued on Monday what he called a "stay-at-home" order for all of Virginia, a move that will continue to allow people to leave their homes for essentials such as food, supplies, medical appointments and exercise, but "orders" residents to otherwise stay home.
Northam made the announcement during his 2 p.m. press briefing, which occurred hours after the Virginia Department of Health reported 1,020 cases of COVID-19 across the state and 25 deaths tied to the coronavirus pandemic.
The order took effect immediately and will remain in effect until Wednesday, June 10, unless otherwise amended, according to a press release from Northam's office.
Northam said he believes most Virginians have so far complied with his earlier requests to stay at home as much as possible. But he expressed frustration that beaches and other recreational areas "were literally packed" over the past weekend.
The order will allow non-essential businesses to remain open if they can limit occupants to 10 people or fewer and maintain social distancing.
The order will close all Virginia beaches except for exercise and fishing, Northam said.
Northam said golf courses can remain open under the order, but that clubhouses must close. Most other recreational areas, both indoor and outdoor, have already closed across the state.
In response to a reporter's question, Northam said local police have the authority to charge people with a Class 1 misdemeanor if they violate the ban on gatherings of more than 10 people.
"This is not a time when we're looking to put people in jail, but it is a time when we want people to comply," Northam said.
"To date, this has been a suggestion to Virginians," Northam added. "Today, it is an order."
The order directs all Virginians to stay home except in "extremely limited circumstances," the press release said.
"Individuals may leave their residences for allowable travel, including to seek medical attention, work, care for family or household members, obtain goods and services like groceries, prescriptions, and others as outlined" in Executive Order 53, which Northam issued last week.
The order also directs all Virginia institutions of higher education to stop in-person classes and instruction, the press release said.
“We are in a public health crisis, and we need everyone to take this seriously and act responsibly,” Northam said in a statement included in the release.
“Our message to Virginians is clear: Stay home. We know this virus spreads primarily through human-to-human contact, and that’s why it’s so important that people follow this order and practice social distancing. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for their cooperation during this unprecedented and difficult time.”