COVID-19: Protect Yourself & Others

Page updated on May 3, 2021 at 9:00 AM

Protect Yourself and Those Around You

Every Alexandrian can take steps to reduce the spread of COVID-19: maintain at least 6 feet of distance from others, wear a mask over both your nose and mouth, wash your hands, and disinfect surfaces.

Mitigation Mandates In Effect

Governor Northam announced changes to Executive Order 72 to go into effect in two phases.

Effective April 21, the following mitigation measures have been adjusted:

  • Seating is now permitted in bar areas of restaurants, provided at least 6 feet is maintained between parties and no standing congregation is permitted.

  • Distancing requirements have been decreased from 10 feet to 6 feet for entertainment and public amusement venues, swimming pool seating, graduations, and recreational sporting events.

  • Outdoor races and marathons may place runners in staggered groups of up to 100 (up from 50).
  • School theatrical and musical performances may allow patrons up to 30% of the venue capacity, with a maximum of 500 patrons indoors and no specific limit outdoors.
  • Personal care and personal grooming studios are no longer required to maintain appointment logs and contact information for customers.
  • Splash pads, hot tubs, and saunas are no longer prohibited.

Effective May 15, the following mitigation measures will be in place:

  • Capacity limits at entertainment venues will increase from 30% to 50%, with an increase in the maximum number of indoor patrons from 500 to 1,000 and no specific limit on the number of outdoor patrons.
  • Capacity limits at recreational sports venues will increase from 30% to 50%, with a maximum of 250 spectators per field for indoor events and 1,000 spectators per field for outdoor events.
  • The limit on social gatherings will increase from 50 to 100 indoors and from 100 to 250 outdoors.
  • Alcohol sales and restaurant dining will be permitted after midnight.
  • When outdoors, all individuals aged five and older must cover their mouth and nose with a mask as recommended by the CDC.

Cloth Face Coverings and Masks

Mask Requirements

Face coverings are required in indoor and outdoor public places, to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The ordinance expands on a state executive order that has required masks in most indoor public settings since May 29. Read the news release

The CDC notes that purchased or homemade face coverings will not prevent individuals from catching the COVID-19 virus, but will help prevent people who have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others.

What You Can Do If You See a Violation of an Executive Order

  • First, determine that there really is a violation. Different businesses and venues have different restrictions – review the summaries below and the Executive Orders and FAQs.
  • If an individual patron is not wearing a face covering, they may have a medical reason that prohibits them from wearing one. They are not required to provide medical documentation. Maintain at least 6 feet of distance and keep your face covering on yourself.
  • If an employee of a business in a customer-facing role is not wearing a face covering, ask the employee or the manager if they will wear one. You may wish to say, “I would feel safer if you/your employee would wear a face covering” or “There is a requirement that customer-facing employees wear face coverings – will you please comply with that requirement?”
  • Consider reporting violations on Virginia Department of Health’s online complaint form. Or call Alexandria Health Department’s COVID-19 Hotline at 703.746.4988 weekdays 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (messages after hours, holidays and weekends will be returned the next business day).
  • Consider not patronizing businesses and establishments that are not following or enforcing requirements of the Executive Orders, which are designed to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19. Advise the business of your decision. Feel free to adapt and send the Alexandria Health Department's template letter to the business.
  • Look for the ALX Promise Shield, a marker that businesses have completed Alexandria Health Department’s voluntary safety training. Alexandria businesses with the ALX Promise Shield have gone above and beyond and are committed to higher safety standards for employees and customers than the minimum rules required. Find the full list of businesses here.

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Stay Home and Practice Physical Distancing

Virginia is in Phase Three of the  Forward Virginia blueprint. Read the frequently asked questions

Executive Order 67 provides for certain restrictions until further notice:

Restaurants and Dining Establishments can serve patrons indoors with all parties separated by at least 6 feet. Bar seats and congregate areas must remain closed except for through-traffic; non-bar seating in the bar area (e.g. tables not at the bar or food service area) may be used for customers as long as a minimum of 6 feet is maintained between parties. Tabletops, chairs, and credit card/bill folders must be cleaned between patrons. Hand washing stations of hand sanitizer must be provided for the use of patrons and employees. Employees in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouths.

Farmers Markets may continue to operate. Employees and patrons must maintain at least 6 feet of distance between all persons who are not family members. Employees and vendors must wear face coverings over their nose and mouth. Vendors must supply hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations for patrons and employees.

Brick and Mortar Retail Business may operate if employees and patrons maintain at least 6 feet of distance between individuals who are not family members. Employees in customer-facing areas must wear face covering over their nose and mouth.

Fitness and Exercise Facilities Occupancy must be limited to 75% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy. The total number of attendees (including both participants and instructors) in all group exercise and fitness classes cannot exceed the lesser of 75% of the minimum occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy or 25 persons. Patrons, members and guests who are not family members must remain at least 10 feet apart except where necessary for the physical safety of an individual. Employees must ensure cleaning and disinfecting of shared equipment after each use; equipment that cannot be thoroughly disinfected between uses (e.g. climbing ropes, exercise bands, etc.) are prohibited from use. Hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations must be provided for patrons, members and guests. Employees in customer facing areas must wear face coverings (instructors participating in exercise are exempt from this requirement). 

Outdoor and Indoor Swimming Pools may be open with a maximum of 75% of the occupancy load. All swimmers must maintain at least 10 feet apart from others who are not family members. Hot tubs, spas, splash pads, spray pools and interactive play features must remain closed. Hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations must be provided for patrons, members and guests. Employees in customer facing areas must wear face coverings (lifeguards actively guarding are exempt from this requirement).

Personal Care and Personal Grooming Services must maintain at least 6 feet of distancing between workstations. Service providers and employees in customer-facing areas must wear face covers over their nose and mouths. These businesses must provide face coverings for clients or ask that clients bring a face covering with them. Services must be limited to those that can be completed while clients are wearing their face covering.

Entertainment and Amusement Businesses: The total number of attendees (including both participants and spectators) cannot exceed the lesser of 30% of the lowest occupancy load on the certificate of occupancy, if applicable, or 250 persons. Visible markers for the line must be placed to separate people by 6 feet or more. Ten feet of physical distancing is required between parties where there is physical activity, singing, cheering, etc. Employees in customer-facing areas must wear face coverings over their nose and mouths. Hand sanitizer or hand-washing stations must be provided for attendees and employees. 

Recreational Sports must maintain 10 feet of physical distance among all instructors, participants and spectators, where practicable. The total number of spectators cannot exceed the lesser of 30% of the occupancy load of the certificate of occupancy for the venue, if applicable, or 25 spectators per field. Races or marathons may have up to 250 participants, provided staggered starts separate runners into groups of 25 or less.

Houses of Worship are allowed to hold in-person services providing that individuals who are not family members that are at least 6 feet apart when seated, and must practice proper physical distancing at all times. Seating and common areas where attendees may congregate must be marked in 6-foot increments to maintain physical distancing. Any items used to distribute food or beverages must be disposable, used only once and discarded. A thorough cleaning and disinfection of frequently-contacted surfaces must be conducted prior to and following any religious service. All public and private in-person indoor and outdoor gatherings must be limited to 25, down from the current 250.

Child Care Resources: 

Prepare for Possible Quarantine or Isolation

If you or someone in your household has COVID-19, or has been a close contact, you may be  asked not to leave your home for an extended period. Learn more about when it’s safe to be around others. Residents should plan and prepare by doing the following:  

  • Have on hand enough food, household and pet supplies to last for two weeks. 
  • Gather enough medical supplies to last for one month, especially prescriptions and other medicines you may need.
  • Identify a list of people who can help you or will need to be notified in the event of an emergency,  including family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, healthcare providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department and other community resources. 
  • Identify people who may need help, like neighbors, friends, family and co-workers who are older adults, have limited resources, have special needs, don’t understand English well or are new to the area.  
  • Talk to your employer about changes at work, how family and sick leave will be handled and if there are plans to work from home or elsewhere.  

Caring for Loved Ones with COVID-19

If you are caring for someone with COVID-19 either at your home or theirs, follow this guidance to avoid spreading the illness further.

Avoid Scams and Misinformation

  • Remain vigilant for scams related to COVID-19. You may receive fake phone calls or emails with malicious attachments or links to fraudulent websites, to try to trick you into revealing sensitive information or donating to fraudulent charities or causes.

  • If someone calls and identifies themselves as being from Alexandria Health Department, they will not ask for financial or sensitive information such as bank accounts or your social security number. Learn more about what happens during a case investigation or contact tracing call. 

  • Exercise caution in handling any email with a COVID-19-related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink, and be wary of social media pleas, texts, or calls related to COVID-19.

  • Do not reveal personal or sensitive  information in email, and do not respond to email solicitations for this information.

  • Avoid clicking on links in unsolicited emails from unofficial sources, and be wary of email attachments.

  • Learn how to avoid social engineering and phishing attacks.

  • Use trusted sources, such as government websites ending in .GOV like (CDC),, and

  • Verify a charity’s authenticity before making donations. Review the Federal Trade Commission’s page on Charity Scams for more information.

  • Businesses and organizations should review information about risk management related to COVID-19.

Grocery Stores and Farmers Markets

While there is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread through food or food from certain countries, any food can be a surface for the transmission of viruses if safe food handling practices are not followed.

To permit access to food while employing physical distancing and hygiene best practices, merchants and customers at grocery stores and farmers markets should follow these guidelines in addition to the ones directly above:

  • Merchants should use gloves properly and in addition to washing or sanitizing. Change gloves frequently.
  • Everyone should maintain personal space of six feet whenever possible.
  • Merchants should discontinue sampling of cut or open foods.
  • Everyone should use non-cash forms of payment when possible. Wash or sanitize hands immediately after handling cash or payment devices.
  • Before preparing or eating, customers should wash all fruits and vegetables in accordance with  FDA guidance for cleaning produce.