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UPDATE: Small Reopen Virginia protest temporarily shuts down Capitol Square on Friday
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UPDATE: Small Reopen Virginia protest temporarily shuts down Capitol Square on Friday

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Capitol Square closed for nearly two hours Friday afternoon while a group of about 20 people protesting Gov. Ralph Northam's "stay-at-home" order and calling for the government to "reopen Virginia" refused to leave after Capitol police asked them to disperse for violating the order that prohibits gatherings of more than 10 people.

The group, which at first numbered between three and four dozen, according to Joe Macenka, spokesman for the Division of Capitol Police, arrived around noon Friday at the pedestrian plaza entrance of the Capitol at 10th and Bank streets.

Around 1:15 p.m., some of the group broke off leaving about 20 people who marched up the South Portico stairs toward the Capitol building, "which has been closed for some time," Macenka said.

Police asked the group to disperse because it was larger than the 10-person limit allowed in the governor's executive order to prevent spreading of the novel coronavirus. When the 20-or-so people refused to disperse, Capital police closed the square.

It reopened around 3:15 p.m. after a brief downpour of rain cleared the square. No one was cited or charged.

arockett@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6527

Twitter: @AliRockettRTD

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