Virginia GOP leader: Gov. Northam’s mask order will have ‘counter-effect’ on Virginians

Reopening The Region

Virginia Republican House leader calls for "more consistency" from Northam

(WJHL) – After Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced a mandate for Virginians to wear face coverings in public, Republican lawmakers in the state are calling for “more consistency” from the governor in some of his responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rep. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) said Wednesday that he believes the governor’s order that requires face coverings in all public buildings could backfire in its attempt to get more people to cover their face in public.

“I think it’s going to have the counter-effect,” Gibson said of Executive Order 63. “I think the governor, by making this a mandate, has effectively squandered his moral authority as a governor and physician, something that’s unique to him in the country that he could have asked people to follow his lead.”

Previous story: Virginia Gov. Northam: Police will not enforce face coverings mandate, starts May 29

Northam said on Tuesday that the order will be enforced by the health department instead of law enforcement. Gilbert described the order as “all over the place,” and said it places a burden on business owners to enforce the mandate. Since the governor said the order won’t be enforced by police, Gilbert said Northam is asking small businesses to shoulder the responsibility of enforcing it.

“Some 18-year-old cashier will be, have the responsibility of telling customers when they come in that they’re in violation of the governor’s executive order,” Gilbert said. “We just think that’s an additional burden on businesses that, at an already stressful time both financially and otherwise.”

Gilbert said he believes the mandate follows a stream of “inconsistencies coming out of the governor’s office.”

He pointed to the governor’s initial hesitance at implementing region-wide plans for reopening.

When he announced the statewide plans for reopening the economy, Northam said he was against opening some regions before others, citing concerns of division within the state and the potential to spread the virus to less-affected areas of the state.

The governor later announced that certain localities in northern Virginia would open later than the rest of the state because of the increased spread of COVID-19 in those areas.

“We go from, you know, one size fits all to even localities having their own special dispensation to stay closed if they want to, he did that a couple of weeks ago,” Gilbert said.

“We would like some more consistency coming from the governor and his administration on just about everything they do.”

Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

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