Gov. Northam announces efforts to enforce mask mandate in Virginia


RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) – In an effort to curb COVID-19 infections in the state, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday that several state agencies will be taking steps toward enforcement.

The Virginia Department of Health will be teaming up with agencies such as the Alcoholic Beverage Commission to conduct unannounced visits at establishments to check for masking compliance, he announced.

Businesses not enforcing masks and physical distancing among patrons could find themselves stripped of permits and licenses, the governor warned.

“We have rules in place for businesses,” he said. “If you don’t wear a shirt, if you don’t wear shoes, you don’t get served, and you can be asked to leave that place of business and if you don’t leave, you’re trespassing.

“It’s that simple. We’re going to add masks to shoes and shirts.”

While he said these efforts would extend across the state, they will be concentrated in the Hampton Roads area of the state, where he said cases appear to be increasing the most. He said socialization at establishments such as bars and restaurants appears to be perpetuating a spread of the disease among young adults.

Northam continued that his administration will continue considering other options to enforce the mandate.

“None of this would be necessary if people would just do the right thing,” he said.

“If people don’t abide by the fuidelines then there’s oing to be consequences for that.”

In reponse to school planning, Northam said that the state will be leaving the decision of how to conduct school will be left up to local school boards for public K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities.

He said that the plan isn’t “one size fits all” for each district in the state, and each school board should make the decision in tandem with local health department data and counsel.

The governor shared an update on statewide data and pointed out that overall, cases are increases across the state. He acknowledged a “small uptick” in southwest Virginia while also pointing to increases in the state’s Tidewater region in eastern Virginia.

He compared Virginia’s data to other states and said that comparatively, Virginia is “doing well,” but that it’s going to take statewide compliance with guidelines to keep the spread as low as possible until a vaccine is available.

“This is not he end of the action swe may take, but the beginning,” he said.

Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

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