Governor Northam details mask mandate enforcement

All public beaches can open Friday with guidelines

Governor Northam details mask mandate enforcement

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - All of Virginia will remain in phase one of the Virginia Forward reopening plan for at least another week.

Friday also marks a big change in the state: To go into a public building or business, you will have to wear a mask.

“We’ve got a long road ahead of us and the only way we’re going to get through this is to put the politics aside, put the jabs aside and just be part of the solution and that’s what I encourage Virginians to do," said Governor Ralph Northam.

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During Thursday's COVID-19 briefing, a member of the governor's counsel, Rita Davis, said the executive order requiring masks while in public buildings and businesses can be enforced by the Virginia Department of Health through a civil process or by getting a warrant from the magistrate.

“The governor has stated only gross, egregious and repeated conduct in violation of the order should rise to the attention to the department of health," said Davis.

Law enforcement should not be involved, but that’s where things get tricky. Northam says business owners should try to resolve issues with a non-mask wearing customer, but can ultimately refuse service. And that could lead to problems.

“We don’t want businesses to be in the practice of enforcing this. It’s an awkward position for them to be in and certainly don’t want confrontations to occur," said Northam.

Starting Friday, all public beaches in the state can re-open if they have guidelines in place similar to Virginia Beach. The governor said he liked what he saw during his trip to the oceanfront last weekend.

“I expect everyone to follow the restrictions so that people can be safe while enjoying our beautiful beaches,” said Northam.

Meanwhile, the federal government has extended Title 32 funding to the Virginia National Guard. The guard has been part of testing efforts at places like prisons and long-term care facilities in the commonwealth.

The state of emergency set to expire next month will continue indefinitely to keep resources freed up.

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