Virginians Will Be Required to Wear Masks Starting Friday

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam listens as he prepares to speak to a group of volunteers to distribute supplies at health equity community event Tuesday May 12, 2020, in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

By Elle Meyers

May 26, 2020

Gov. Ralph Northam announced that all Virginians will be required to wear masks while inside public spaces and that Northern Virginia will begin reopening starting Friday May, 29th. 

The new face covering guidance means that when residents visit stores, barber shops, restaurants and travel on public transportation, among other things, they will be expected to wear face coverings.

“I’m taking this step because science increasingly shows us that the virus spreads less easily when everyone is wearing face coverings,” Northam said during a press conference. 

There are exceptions to the new guidance including when residents are eating or drinking at a restaurant, during exercise, health conditions and for children who are under the age of 10. 

“Let me speak to you as a doctor,” Northam said, “I strongly recommend any child who is three years old, or older to wear a face covering to the extent possible. This is about protecting those around us, especially our workers.” 

He went on to say that the masks don’t need to be medical grade, and in fact medical grade masks should be reserved for medical workers on the frontline of responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Instead, simple masks can be made out of cloth and rubber bands. 

“I know that even these steps are going to be difficult for some of our most vulnerable populations throughout this pandemic but we’ve seen community groups step up to help out and I hope that can be the case here,” Northam said. 

Although wearing masks will be required enforcement of the rules will be executed through the Virginia Department of Health, not the police. 

“Our law enforcement officers, our police and our sheriffs will not have a role in enforcing this, I’m not looking for people to get in trouble by not wearing a mask. But I am looking for people to please do the right thing,” Northam said. “I’m asking people to respect one another.” 

Northam noted again that wearing masks will be an important step in protecting workers. He explained that as more businesses reopen to the public, workers will become more vulnerable to the virus. 

The Virginia Department of Labor and Industry will draft new regulations around COVID-19 to protect workers. 

“These new workplace safety standards will apply to employers and should include use of personal protective equipment, sanitation, record keeping of incidents and hazards of communication. I’m asking Virginians to remember that their actions have consequences. Everything we do affects someone else,” he said. 

Northam fielded questions over pictures that surfaced over the weekend that showed him meeting with constituents without a mask on. He explained that he had left his mask in his car and did not expect to greet members of the community celebrating Memorial Day weekend. 

“The next time I’m out in public I will be better prepared and I take that as my responsibility. But this is not just about me, this is about all Virginians and it’s about their public safety,” Northam said. 

He said that his administration will continue to offer guidelines as to the best interest of all Virginians as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop. 

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized


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