The University increased its outdoor gathering limit to 25 individuals following a continued decline in COVID-19 cases, according to an email from Dean of Students Allen Groves Tuesday. The indoor gathering limit remains at six individuals.
Despite the relaxation of restrictions and the increased availability of vaccines, Groves warned that it is still important that students adhere to public health guidelines — including mask-wearing and social-distancing — as the vast majority of Charlottesville-Albemarle residents and University students are still waiting to be vaccinated.
“We must continue to encourage and support one another in the days ahead,” Groves said. “Each of us must be personally responsible for following basic public health measures and asking those around us to do so, too.”
The University previously increased the outdoor gathering limit to 10 on March 11 following declining new COVID-19 cases. The outdoor gathering limit was six for the first 6 weeks of the semester. The new outdoor gathering limit of 25 is consistent with the maximum allowed by the Commonwealth’s current gathering restrictions.
Groves said he hopes the new restrictions will allow students and clubs — including sports teams and performing groups — to spend more time outside as the weather improves. He also emphasized that those who are looking to graduate in two months are depending on the rest of the community to “be responsible in the weeks ahead” in order to have the opportunity for some in-person graduation events this May.
“It’s important to remember the pandemic is still not behind us,” Groves said.
The University previously canceled Final Exercises as planned for the Class of 2021 and instead told students it was considering two alternatives — hosting modified graduation events involving solely graduating students or postponing graduation ceremonies until parents and friends can attend.
Following Governor Ralph Northam’s revision of COVID-19 restrictions related to graduation ceremonies — which indicated outdoor ceremonies will be capped at 5,000 people or 30 percent of the venue capacity — University President Jim Ryan said the University will reevaluate its plan for Final Exercises and will make a final decision by April 2.
Students can continue to request the use of outdoor spaces for groups larger than 25 through the event planning website. Events that have already been approved this semester include cultural programming events and concerts for up to 300 individuals.
As of Tuesday, there are currently 38 active cases of COVID-19 within the University community, 25 of which are students.