Details and reactions to new COVID-19 restrictions in Charlottesville, Albemarle County

Details and reactions to new COVID-19 restrictions in Charlottesville, Albemarle County

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Both Charlottesville City Council and the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors voted on Monday to approve a new set of restrictions designed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. The move comes as cases of the coronavirus in central Virginia are rising.

The two new orders were agreed upon by the governing bodies and will go into effect on August 1, exactly one month after Virginia moved into Phase 3 of reopening.

“Looking back, there may be things that we didn’t get exactly right, that the assumptions may not be perfect,” Albemarle County Board Member Ann Mallek said. “But we do, as someone said, have to take enough action so we don’t look back and wish we had.”

The measures in both the city and the county include a 50% capacity on indoor dining, a face-covering mandate for all public places, and a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people.

“My wife and I have five kids and nine grandchildren, so we have a sense of taking care of people,” Tom Fields, a Virginia resident, said. “I think those are very reasonable conditions.”

These changes coming as the percent of people who have tested positive for the virus in the Thomas Jefferson Health District has mostly bounced between six and nine percent since Phase 3 of reopening in the Commonwealth. That’s higher than it was during Phases 1 and 2.

“I think more people have to be convinced,” Fields said during an interview on the Charlottesville Downtown Mall. “As we walk through this beautiful area here, some people have masks, some people do not.”

But these new guidelines don’t apply to city or county schools, both of which have its own boards that will finalize decisions.

“It’ll probably be, whatever, 10, 20 years before they really know the full effect of someone who got COVID-19 before a vaccine, and if you were a child, who knows what that could mean?” said Matt Lambert, who grew up in Charlottesville.

In response to concerns that this measure could hurt the economy, Charlottesville Council Member Michael Payne said, “I think part of - at least for me and I’m sure for all of us - the motivation for this is that nothing would be worse for the economy than for UVA students coming back, as well as other things changing, to be a super-spreader event.“

One difference in the policies the county and the city approved: the penalties. Charlottesville City Council made sure that no violations will be a jail-able offense, but in Albemarle County, violations of the face-covering mandate or a gathering of more than 50 people could be up to a class 1 misdemeanor.

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