Virginia closes non-essential businesses; schools for rest of academic year due to coronavirus

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam ordered that all non-essential businesses close for the foreseeable future and that schools in the state remain closed for the rest of the year while the state deals with the coronavirus outbreak.

Essential businesses will remain open.


As of noon, the governor noted, the state has 254 coronavirus cases - along with six deaths.

Northam anticipates that the number of cases will rise.

He specified that "non-essential businesses" include restaurants, gyms, and racetracks.

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Restaurants will be restricted to carryout only, he said.

These restrictions are in place for the next 30 days.

Northam thanked those Virginians who were making sacrifices throughout the crisis - but cautioned that more sacrifices are ahead.

RELATED: What businesses are considered non-essential under Maryland's, Virginia's exec order

The governor said that approximately 40,000 people in the state have filed for unemployment - and he expects that number to go up.

"Our priority is to save lives we have a health crisis and economic crisis the sooner our health crisis is under control the sooner our economic crisis can recover," the governor said.


Meanwhile, school districts across the Commonwealth are moving ahead with their plans for distance learning.

Northam said they are working on waivers for testing requirements and to ensure students who were on track to graduate can do so.

Existing childcare providers can continue to operate, and must prioritize services to children of people with essential jobs.

Essential personnel can call 866-KIDS-TLC for help with childcare or visit

LIVE: Interactive map tracks global spread of COVID-19

In a statement released following Virginia's news conference, Northam's office said the following constitute some of the "non-essential" businesses that must close:

  • Restaurants
  • Dining establishments
  • Food courts
  • Farmers markets
  • Breweries
  • Microbreweries
  • Distilleries
  • Wineries
  • Tasting rooms

Virginia's criteria for "essential businesses includes:"

  • Grocery stores, pharmacies, and other retailers that sell food and beverage products or pharmacy products, including dollar stores, and department stores with grocery or pharmacy operations
  • Medical, laboratory, and vision supply retailers
  • Electronic retailers that sell or service cell phones, computers, tablets, and other communications technology
  • Automotive parts, accessories, and tire retailers as well as automotive repair facilities
  • 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 stores and feed stores
  • Printing and office supply stores
  • Laundromats and dry cleaners

The full text of the governor's executive order can be found here.

On Monday, Northam, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser released a joint statement following a conference call on the coronavirus pandemic. Read the full statement below: 

“As leaders of the three jurisdictions of the National Capital Region, we carry a unique responsibility to keep the federal government operating. Our actions promote the health and safety of more than 360,000 federal workers who live and work across our three jurisdictions. No other region in the country bears this responsibility. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we call on the federal government to provide additional financial support to help our jurisdictions maintain the health and safety of the region and the federal workers who serve the American people.

“The COVID-19 virus knows neither borders nor boundaries – it does not recognize state or city lines. We are working closely together to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Together, we are promoting social distancing and encouraging all of our residents to stay at home and avoid crowds and gatherings. In each of our jurisdictions, we will be enforcing crowd control measures and social distancing standards.

“We will continue to work together to keep our residents and the federal workforce as healthy and safe as possible in the coming weeks and months.”


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