University of Virginia President Jim Ryan on Tuesday announced three new COVID-19 restrictions that will begin Wednesday, which inlcude limiting travel and reducing gatherings to no more than five people.
In a video, Ryan addressed students and reassured them that the new restrictions are mostly preemptive. Students have, for the most part, been doing the right thing, Ryan said, though the university has received some reports of large gatherings.
“As we’ve said from the very beginning, staying one step ahead of this virus will not be easy,” he said. “It will require everyone doing their part – not just some of the time or even most of the time, but all the time.”
Among the new restrictions is a reduction in the number of students allowed to gather, which has been reduced from 15 to five. If the new gathering number is not respected, Ryan said, additional measures may be taken, including imposition of a curfew.
All students will continue to be required to wear masks at all times, apart from when they are at home, eating or exercising outdoors, Ryan said.
Lastly, the UVa is ramping up its travel and visitor policy, requesting that students not leave Charlottesville for the next two weeks and do not invite outsiders to grounds.
“This is to protect people outside this community, as well as to prevent more of the virus from being brought back to grounds,” Ryan said.
The new restrictions — which also apply to faculty and staff — will officially go into place at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Ryan said and will last at least for the next two weeks.
“We hope and trust you will follow these restrictions, but if need be, we’ll have no choice but to enforce them,” he said. “We have already had to issue interim suspensions to several students for intentionally disregarding policies around gatherings, masking and social distancing and we will be even more vigilant going forward.”
UVa will continue in-person classes during the next two weeks, he said, as the university has no evidence that classes have spread the virus. UVa will continue to ramp up testing – monitoring the wastewater coming out of dorms, testing random groups of students every day and rolling out saliva screening that will allow UVa to test larger numbers of students at multiple locations.
Ryan said he knows the path ahead will be difficult but that he believes the UVa community can handle it.
“While getting to Thanksgiving is going to be hard, all of you have shown over the last six months that you can do hard things – whether it’s missing graduations and sports seasons, figuring out online classes or trying to make new friends under extraordinarily challenging circumstances,” he said.