U.Va. announces new COVID-19 restrictions; restricts travel, visitors

Three new COVID-19 restrictions are in effect at University of Virginia, Wednesday, after President Jim Ryan’s announcement of new measures aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus on campus and in Charlottesville.

“Over the last few days, we’ve become more concerned about the spread of COVID-19 within the U.Va. community,” Ryan said in a video message released Tuesday evening.

“Some of this has been driven by a rise in the number of positive cases in the U.Va. community, but we’ve also gotten reports of a few large student gatherings, both on and off Grounds.”

As of Wednesday at 9 a.m. — and for at least the next two weeks — the university reduced the number of students allowed to gather from 15 to five. Students and staff are required to wear masks at all times, except when they are at home, eating or exercising outdoors.

Ryan also said the school plans to ramp up enforcement of its travel and visitor policies: “Please do not leave Charlottesville over the next two weeks, and do not invite visitors to come to town. This is to protect people outside this community, as well as to prevent more of the virus from being brought back to Grounds.”

In-person classes will continue during the two-week period. Ryan said there is no evidence the virus has been transmitted in classrooms.

Ryan said the school will increase monitoring of wastewater coming out of dorms, which has helped to provide early awareness of the prevalence of the virus. Random groups of students are being tested on campus, and new saliva screening will allow for the testing of larger numbers of students.

In addition to the new restrictions, Ryan said it’s more important than ever to maintain physical distance: “This includes at bars and restaurants; if you cannot stay 6 feet from others at a restaurant or bar, do not go in. And speaking of bars, if you are under 21, please do not go in, period.”

Ryan said medical experts have identified bars as among the highest-risk locations for spread.

“We need your help in limiting risk for yourselves, your fellow students and members of our community.

“We know these additional restrictions will be an added burden, and we do not adopt them lightly. But we are doing what we can to slow down the spread of the virus and increase our chances of remaining on Grounds all fall.”

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a reporter at WTOP since 1997. Through the years, Neal has covered many of the crimes and trials that have gripped the region. Neal's been pleased to receive awards over the years for hard news, feature reporting, use of sound and sports.

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