Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s mask mandate begins today: Here’s what you need to know


ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) – Today is officially the day.

Virginians are now required to wear face masks in indoor public spaces.

Governor Ralph Northam (D) announced the new mandate Tuesday, May 26 during his coronavirus update.

Under the Governor’s executive order, any person over the age of ten must wear a mask or face covering at all times while entering, exiting, traveling through, and spending time in indoor settings.

A face covering includes anything that covers your nose and mouth, such as a mask, scarf, or bandana.

The statewide requirement is based on recommendations and data from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, that people should wear face coverings in public.

Public settings include:

  • Personal care and grooming businesses
  • Essential and non-essential brick and mortar retailers including grocery stores and pharmacies
  • Food and beverage establishments
  • Entertainment or public amusement establishments when permitted to open
  • Train stations, bus stations, and on intrastate public transportation, including in waiting or congregating areas
  • State and local government buildings and areas where the public accesses services
  • Any indoor space shared by groups of people who may congregate within six feet of one another or who are in close proximity to each other for more than ten minutes

There are some exceptions to this order.

While everyone ten and older is required to wear a mask, children two years old and younger are exempt.

Masks will also not be required:

  • While eating or drinking
  • While exercising
  • If you have trouble breathing or are unable to remove the mask without help
  • If your health conditions prohibit wearing a face covering
  • If you’re communicating with a hearing-impaired person, needing your mouth to be visible

Many Virginians have raised questions about enforcement of the executive order.

Gov. Northam has stated that police will not be involved, but the Virginia Department of Health (VDH). The health organization could pursue civil or criminal penalties against those who do not abide to the new mandate.

Businesses could also lose their permit or licenses if they don’t comply.

Gov. Northam says the requirements will be lifted as soon as its safe to do so.

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