Richmond Police step up enforcement over COVID-19 orders

Updated: Mar. 26, 2020 at 2:16 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Expect to see more police officers out and about at popular spots around Richmond.

The city is getting serious about making sure people are keeping their distance during the coronavirus pandemic and if not, you could get arrested.

“There are some people who are still rogue when you come to following some of these guidelines and that’s why with the beautiful weather that’s coming this weekend we are going to setup our enforcement of that executive order,” said Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.

According to Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53, as of 11:59 on Tuesday, March 24 all businesses in Virginia are subject to the following regulations:

  • Entertainment and recreation venues must close;
  • Non-essential businesses that cannot abide by the recommended six feet of social distancing must close;
  • Food and drink establishments must limit their service to carryout, curbside, or delivery;
  • Non-essential brick and mortar stores may stay open as long as they limit capacity to 10 patrons at a time; and
  • Essential businesses, such as grocery stores and medical and health establishments, may stay open but must practice social distancing and enhanced hygienic precautions.

Here is a link to the full text of the Governor’s instructions.

Thursday, officers with Richmond City Police scoped out some of the popular places around the city like Carytown, public parks and other outdoor attractions like Pony Pasture Rapids.

“This is a public health crisis. This is about public safety. And we are a public safety organization and we’re going to do our part to make sure we stem this viral outbreak as soon as possible,” said Richmond City Police Chief William Smith.

Chief Smith says you will see message boards and posters in those areas reminding people about social distancing. But also expect to see officers out there monitoring those who do venture out to make sure they stay safe.

“We are all one another’s keeper and we need to be responsible for each other,” said Chief Smith.

If you are stopped here’s what will happen:



Officers will attempt to address these situations as they arise in the following manner:

  • FIRST COMPLAINT – Officers will identify the responsible party, educate them regarding the governor’s order and document the interaction in an offense report. This will include providing the responsible party with a copy of the executive order.
  • SECOND COMPLAINT – Officers will warn the responsible party that continued violation will result in a Class 1 misdemeanor and document the interaction in an offense report.
  • THIRD COMPLAINT – Officers will contact supervision for assistance and proceed with criminal charges, if appropriate.

*NOTE* - Egregious or extreme cases will be handled differently

“This is on us. This is on every Richmonder, no matter what neighborhood you live in, what your background may be,” said Stoney.

Richmond Police will continue to monitor businesses that are still open under the governor’s order to make sure they are also complying with all the guidelines. Chief Smith says you can report a violation.


If a resident of Richmond sees an establishment out of compliance with this order and is concerned for public health, they should call the Richmond Police Department non-emergency number: 804-646-5100. This also applies to residents who see large groups not practicing social distancing in city parks and outdoor spaces.

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