How will Virginia’s mask mandate be enforced?

Virginia Politics

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Masks are now mandatory in Virginia. Anyone over the age of 10 is required to wear them in indoor public places by order of Gov. Ralph Northam.

That order is to be enforced by the Virginia Department of Health, but how will they do it?

10 On Your Side asked Chesapeake Health Director Dr. Nancy Welch. 

“It’s not a matter of taking away anyone’s rights, it’s a matter of us helping each other so we can get through this,” she said.

Welch said the Chesapeake Health Department does not intend to go around shutting down businesses. 

“Yes, there is that authority by which we could close and are we going to ignore that? No,” she said.

Her office could seek a civil injunction against a non-compliant business, or get a magistrate to issue a warrant for a misdemeanor charge. However, they are counting on compliance.

Chesapeake Health Department Environmental Manager Cynthia Jackson told us the staff has already been making calls and providing education and resources to businesses.

“If  they have a patron come in, they could expose their entire staff and then they have no choice but to close,” Jackson said.

If an individual customer refuses to comply, she said it will be up to the business to enforce the mandate.

“If anything escalates from there, then we get law enforcement involved,” she said.

According to the executive order, the mask must cover your mouth and nose.

There are some exceptions. For instance, eating or drinking at a restaurant, exercising, or if you have a health condition that prevents you from wearing one.

Otherwise, Welch said, think of it this way: ” It’s like no shirt, no shoes, no mask … no service.” 

Welch said when it’s put it that perspective, businesses tend to have a greater understanding and willingness to comply.

If you have concerns or questions you can contact your local health department or call the state hotline:  1-877-ASK-VDH-3.

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