ROANOKE, Va. (WFXR) — If you think masks are just harmless fun this Halloween season, you may want to reconsider. If you’re an adult wearing a mask in Virginia, you may be breaking the law.
The law in question, § 18.2-422, is still used to prosecute adults for a variety of crimes.
It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, to be or appear in any public place, or upon any private property in this Commonwealth without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing.§ 18.2-422
Just last week, a North Carolina teen was arrested in Danville on a charge of wearing a mask in public, robbery, and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
Violation of § 18.2-422 is Class 6 felony.
Are there exceptions to the law? Yes, though the exceptions are quite limited.
However, the provisions of this section shall not apply to persons (i) wearing traditional holiday costumes; (ii) engaged in professions, trades, employment or other activities and wearing protective masks which are deemed necessary for the physical safety of the wearer or other persons; (iii) engaged in any bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball; or (iv) wearing a mask, hood or other device for bona fide medical reasons upon (a) the advice of a licensed physician or osteopath and carrying on his person an affidavit from the physician or osteopath specifying the medical necessity for wearing the device and the date on which the wearing of the device will no longer be necessary and providing a brief description of the device, or (b) the declaration of a disaster or state of emergency by the Governor in response to a public health emergency where the emergency declaration expressly waives this section, defines the mask appropriate for the emergency, and provides for the duration of the waiver.§ 18.2-422
It is likely safe to wear a Halloween mask with your child, but you should play it safe wearing the costume on any other day of the year.