Governor Ralph Northam announced on Tuesday that Northern Virginia – where the case total once overshadowed the rest of the state – has shown dramatic improvement.
The governor stressed, however, that health officials are very concerned about climbing cases in the Tidewater region, especially among young people.
As a result, officials are launching a campaign to enforce restrictions at bars, restaurants and gathering places – particularly in Hampton Roads.
The governor said that if they continue to see concerning numbers, the state might need to consider restoring stricter limits on gatherings.
Bar seating remains prohibited in phase three of Virginia’s reopening process, and the governor wants restaurant owners to consider masks mandatory in the same way that they consider clothing.
Many venues have a policy of “no shirt, no shoes, no service” – and Northam says he wants establishments to categorize masks much the same way.
Failure to comply with face-covering regulations is currently a misdemeanor.
The governor’s announcement arrives two days after Florida revealed a record 15,000 new COVID-19 cases, and other states are similarly dramatic increases as they ease restrictions.