RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - During a weekly press briefing Thursday, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney along with Richmond-Henrico Health District Director Dr. Danny Avula, criticized the general lack of consistency of Richmond residents wearing face-masks while out in public. While these measures are strongly recommended by the department of health, wearing face masks in public has been largely voluntary. At one point, Stoney and Avula linked the lack of uniformity among residents to Richmond’s delayed reopening.
"It’s my hope that when you are entering a public place, specifically if you are entering a public place as we move towards phase one of reopening, that we move towards reopening that you wear your masks,” Stoney said.
“This is a really key intervention if we want to reopen the economy and keep it open because if we don’t, the risk of rerunning to lock down is high, if we don’t practice social distancing, washing hands and wearing masks,” Avula said. “It’s going to help alleviate all kinds of social and economic challenges that have been made much worse by this COVID-19 crisis.”
Stoney says while he would like to create a mandate requiring everyone to wear a mask when going in public, it is outside of his power to do so saying that only Governor Ralph Northam has the authority to do that; A reason why Stoney drafted a letter on the subject to the Governor.
“I’ve penned a letter to the governor suggesting mandating mask-wearing as a matter of law,” Stoney said.
The response from people in the community was largely supportive of the idea of mandatory face-masks when out in public.
"I think any public place where you’re going to be inside and close to people you should be wearing them,” Ashley Hall said. "Everybody is trying to get to the other side of this and the fastest way that happens is if we all do the right thing and stay healthy and take care of each other so if we all do this we’ll get through it faster.”
“It’s good if we could still make a choice, but if it’s mandatory I have no issue with it in a store or in a restaurant, Samantha Battle said.”
However some, like Farah Liggins, is not fully on board with the idea despite frequently sporting a face-masks when he goes outdoors.
“If you come pout in the open air, you know going to your car, walking the park you shouldn’t need a mask on.," Liggins said. ”I don’t like that decision because still wouldn’t it violate some people’s rights, most people’s rights."
But Stoney says this isn’t about rights, it’s about respect.
“I just believe that wearing a mask is the most respectful thing that you can do at the moment," Stoney said.
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