State police will give ‘education and warnings’ under Virginia stay-at-home order — for persistent violation, a Class 1 misdemeanor


(WAVY photo/Brett Hall)

VIRGINIA (WAVY) — Just two days after Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, Virginia State Police released information about how they plan to enforce the order.

First, state police will give warnings and “education” for those found violating the stay-at-home or 10-patron-or-less business order for businesses.

Then, persistent violation could result in a person or business being charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. That offense carries the possibility of arrest, up to a year in jail, and a $2,500 fine.

“The Virginia State Police encourages all Virginians to adhere to Virginia Governor Northam’s directives and do their part by staying home in order to best mitigate the exposure and spread of COVID-19 within the Commonwealth,” police wrote in a news release Wednesday.

To follow the order themselves, state police have also canceled all department recruitment events, public presentations, training, ceremonies and more. State troopers are also minimizing their direct contact with the public.

Per state police, here’s the rundown on the orders’ directives:

  • Prohibition of all public and private in-person, indoor and outdoor gatherings of more than 10 individuals – with the exception of the operation of businesses not required to close under EO 53 and the gathering of family members living in the same residence;
  • Closure of all dining and congregation areas in restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms and farmers markets;
  • Any brick-and-mortar retail business (not listed in paragraph 5 of EO 53) failing to limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment. If any such business cannot adhere to the 10-patron limit with proper social distancing requirements, it must close.
  • Closure of all public access to recreational and entertainment businesses;
  • Closure of public beaches for all activity, except for exercising and fishing;
  • Cancellation of in-person classes and instruction at institutions of higher education;
  • Cessation of all reservations for overnight stays of less than 14 nights at all privately-owned campgrounds

State police say they will continue to be present in the communities and on the roads.

Troopers still need to have reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle on the roads. State police will not be making random traffic stops on vehicles.

Per state police, the governor’s orders as they are now:

  • Do not require an individual to carry documentation related to one’s purpose of travel;
  • Do not close Virginia roads/interstates to Virginia residents;
  • Do not restrict non-Virginia residents from traveling into and/or through Virginia;
  • Do not prevent Virginians from traveling out of the state. State police does encourage any Virginian(s) traveling out-of-state to check, in advance, the other state(s) for any travel restrictions in effect for that state(s). Governor Northam has advised Virginians returning from out-of-state and/or international travel to self-quarantine for at least 14 days.

Locally, Virginia Beach Police also put out a message regarding the stay-at-home and business patronage orders.

In a video, the city police chief said his officers would be enforcing the fishing- and exercising-only rules at beaches. It would also be enforcing the rule preventing 10 people or more from gathering.

The chief said the offenses could warrant arrest, but the city is primarily seeking voluntary compliance.

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