Virginia Governor Issues Stay at Home Order

Date   Mar 31, 2020

Executive Summary: As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to affect business around the country, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued Executive Order Fifty-Five on Monday, March 30, 2020, ordering all Virginians to stay at their place of residence unless leaving their homes to obtain food, supplies, or medical care, or for exercise. Governor Northam’s Order does not rescind or affect Executive Order Fifty-Three, issued on March 23, 2020, which ordered the closure of all non-essential businesses, nor does it apply to gatherings of family members living in the same residence. This Order took immediate effect on March 30, 2020, and will extend until June 10, 2020, unless rescinded by subsequent order.

What Activities Are Allowed?

The Order requires all individuals in Virginia to remain at their place of residence and maintain at least six feet of distance when outside of their residential area for essential purposes. Virginians are permitted to leave their homes for the purposes of:

  • Obtaining food, beverages, goods, or other essential services as permitted in Executive Order 53;
  • Seeking medical attention, essential social services, governmental services, assistance from law enforcement, or emergency services;
  • Taking care of other individuals, animals, or visiting the home of a family member;
  • Traveling required by court order or to facilitate child custody, visitation, or child care;
  • Engaging in outdoor activity, including exercise, provided individuals comply with social distancing requirements;
  • Traveling to and from one’s residence, place of worship, or work;
  • Traveling to and from an educational institution;
  • Volunteering with organizations that provide charitable or social services; and
  • Leaving one’s residence due to reasonable fear for health or safety, at the direction of law enforcement, or at the direction of another government agency.

What Activities are Prohibited?

Unless otherwise allowed by the Order, public or private gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited, including parties, celebrations, religious, or other social events, whether indoors or outdoors. The Order also prohibits individuals from leaving their place of residence, except for essential purposes such as going to work at an essential place of business. For a list of essential businesses, see FordHarrison’s Legal Alert detailing Governor Northam’s Executive Order Fifty-Three.

Executive Order Fifty-Five closes all public beaches for use other than fishing and exercise and notes that social distancing requirements must be followed. The Executive Order also prohibits all higher education institutions from conducting in-person classes and instruction, and cancels all gatherings of more than 10 individuals. For purposes of facilitating remote learning, institutions of higher education may continue to operate, provided that social distancing requirements are maintained. Finally, the Executive Order prohibits all reservations for overnight stays of less than 14 nights at all privately-owned campgrounds beginning on April 1, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.

Individuals or businesses that violate Executive Order Fifty-Five may be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor.

As also stated in Governor Northam’s March 23, 2020 Order, nothing in his March 30, 2020 Order limits (1) the provision of health care or medical services, (2) access to essential services for low-income residents, such as food banks, or (3) the operations of the media, law enforcement agencies, or government.

If you have any questions regarding this Alert, please contact the authors, B. Patrice Clair,,  a partner in our Washington, D.C. and Tysons Corner offices; and Garrett Buttrey,, an associate in our Washington, D.C. office. Of course, you may also contact the FordHarrison attorney with whom you usually work.

Please click here for links to other mandates issued by states and major municipalities.

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