The six exceptions to Northam’s mask mandate and what they mean for you

Virginia

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Virginians will be required to wear face coverings when inside public buildings starting Friday.

According to Gov. Ralph Northam’s order, the masks must cover your mouth and nose. However, there are six exceptions:

  • While eating or drinking
  • If you’re exercising 
  • If you have trouble breathing or are unable to remove the face covering without help
  • If you need to communicate with those who are hard of hearing
  • When temporarily removing the mask is necessary to secure government or medical services
  • If you have a health condition stopping you from wearing a face covering

The order says residents don’t need to prove their medical condition or explain what it is. Virginians are split on whether or not they agree with the governor’s mask mandate. 

“I can make my decision whether I wanna wear a mask or not,” Carl Tomlin Jr., a Powhatan man, said Wednesday. “To me it’s socialism.”

“I think people that just don’t want to do it are very selfish,” Diane Hancock said. “I don’t feel it’s a major inconvenience for people to wear a mask for an hour at the grocery store.”

Attorney Jason Moore isn’t alone in despising how a face covering affects his body. 

“It gives me a headache, it causes my eyes to tear up, causes my eyes to get very red, I get neck pain, it’s very uncomfortable,” Moore said.

However, he has other pressing issues to think about.

“There seems to be no consistent plan put forth to address how these medical exemptions are going to be utilized,” Moore said. 

Moore works in several courts around central Virginia. He said the judges he works with are not on the same page. 

“They’re all over the place. Some judges are saying they’ll issue a show cause if people don’t wear the masks. Other judges are saying they’re not going to enforce it, it’s not their job, it’s an individual choice,” he said. 

When a show cause is ordered, a judge holds the person in contempt of court. In this case, “be fined or jailed if they don’t wear a mask,” Moore said. 

The Virginia Department of Health is tasked with enforcing the mask mandate. Northam’s team says businesses could lose their permit or licences if they don’t comply.

Government buildings, like courts, apply to his mandate. However, he hasn’t yet commented on how courts should proceed if people visiting them don’t comply. 

“I don’t know what we’re going to have in 24 hours when it comes to any kind of guidance on how it’s going to work throughout the state,” Moore said.


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