Here is the latest Virginia news from The Associated Press at 9:40 p.m. EDT

Here is the latest Virginia news from The Associated Press at 9:40 p.m. EDT
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 1:43 AM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is taking a late step to keep bars in restaurants closed as the state prepares to enter Phase 3 of its reopening amid the coronavirus pandemic. The governor said Tuesday the state’s restaurants will not be allowed to fully reopen their bars as previously planned. He announced the decision a day before the state was set to allow people to congregate at bars as long as they practiced social distancing. Instead, restaurants can continue to operate under Phase 2 restrictions, which allows limited table service in bar areas. Virginia does not allow establishments to only serve alcohol, they all must serve food.

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Court documents indicate the leader of a massive fraud scheme that contributed to the collapse of Bank of the Commonwealth nearly a decade ago will soon be released from federal prison amid concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The Virginian-Pilot reports Ed Woodard, the 77-year-old former bank president, has served less than a third of a 23-year sentence he received in November 2013 for multiple bank fraud and related charges. Woodard was granted compassionate release last Friday by U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson, who presided over Woodard’s 10-week trial and sentencing.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — The Confederate battle flag is losing its place of official prominence in the South 155 years after the end of the Civil War. Mississippi’s Republican governor on Tuesday signed legislation to remove the Confederate emblem from the state flag. Other states took action previously. NASCAR, meanwhile, has banned the rebel banner from its car races. The flag with the familiar X design is still visible along Southern highways and in some stores. It's far from being banished in the region. But even flag supporters are surprised by the speed with which change is taking place amid a national debate over racial inequality.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Marijuana will be decriminalized, local governments will have the ability to take down Confederate monuments, and Virginians will pay more in taxes for gasoline and cigarettes starting Wednesday. July 1 is the start date for most of the new laws passed earlier this year by the General Assembly. Democrats, in charge for the first time in a generation, refashioned Virginia as the region’s progressive leader on racial, social and economic issues. Lawmakers  passed the South’s strictest gun laws, broadest LGBTQ protections, highest minimum wage and some of its loosest abortion restrictions.