Northam’s new restrictions include a tighter 10-person limit on the number of people allowed in social gatherings; a curfew; and a mask mandate for all Virginians ages 5 and older.
Notably, Northam did not announce new restrictions for churches.
He did, however, blame churchgoers for the recent increase in coronavirus cases across the state.
“Quite frankly, we know that a lot of the spread is coming from this because these individuals that are in a place of worship and contract the virus then go out to their place of work or to the grocery store or the convenience store or wherever and that’s how this is spread,” he said during a press conference on Thursday.
Northam then claimed religious citizens do not need to attend in-person church services.
“This is a holy time for multiple faith traditions,” he said. “Christmas is two weeks away. The holidays are typically times of joy and community. We gather together, we celebrate our faith, and we celebrate with family. But this year we need to think about what is truly the most important thing. Is it the worship or the building. For me, God is wherever you are. You don’t have to sit in the church pew for God to hear your prayers.”
Heading into the holiday season, Virginia’s Democrat Governor Ralph Northam ramps up his attacks on faith communities during his press conference on new coronavirus restrictions.
“You don’t have to sit in the Church pew…” pic.twitter.com/U6Uwv4k971
— Steve Guest (@SteveGuest) December 10, 2020
“Worship with a mask on is still worship. Worship outside or worship online is still worship,” Northam said.
Northam was one of several Democratic governors who was sued towards the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic for passing strict restrictions on churches.
The Supreme Court ruled against religious restrictions in California earlier this month.