UPDATE 2:15 P.M.: Gov. Ralph Northam (D-Va.) announced Tuesday afternoon that Virginians age 10 and older must wear face masks when in retail stores, at barbers, salons, and inside places where people congregate starting Friday. The action is also in place for restaurants “except when eating.” Face masks must also be worn on public transportation and when accessing state or local government resources.
Other exceptions include when exercising and if you have trouble breathing, have a health condition which prohibits you from wearing a face covering, or are unable to remove the mask without help.
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/WFXR) — As Virginia begins to ease COVID-19 restrictions, Gov. Ralph Northam may soon require citizens to wear facial coverings in public.
Northam is expected to announce his decision Tuesday, May 26 during a press conference set to begin at 2 p.m.
We spoke with Jonathan Murdock, who lives in New York where it is mandatory to wear a mask in public. Murdock, who came home to Richmond at the start of the coronavirus crisis, questions why a mandate has yet to be enforced.
“The governor is a former doctor so I’m surprised he hasn’t had the mask mandatory yet,” Murdock said.
Some Virginians who are not in favor of a face mask mandate may point to a controversial incident over the weekend involving Northam. The governor received backlash after not wearing a face mask at the Virginia Beach oceanfront, which had reopened after being closed for nearly two months. Some suggested it would be hypocritical for Northam to enforce a rule he, himself, was not following.
“Obviously you’re the governor, you’re the head…so how can you delegate things when you don’t follow it yourself and being a former doctor, [a] man of science, it’s like okay?!” Murdock said.
Responding to the criticisms, Northam’s office said in a statement:
“The Governor has repeatedly encouraged wearing face coverings inside or when social distancing is impossible. He was outside yesterday and not expecting to be within six feet of anyone. This is an important reminder to always have face coverings in case situations change — we are all learning how to operate in this new normal, and it’s important to be prepared.”The Office of Gov. Ralph Northam
Rumors suggest that the face mask mandate will be for indoor businesses. Others conclude, however, that facial coverings in public will be Northam’s decision on Tuesday. One resident says if face masks are deemed mandatory for Virginians, the Commonwealth needs to provide the protective gear.
“It’s hard to find N95 masks that are supposed to be the best ones,” said Michael Hammond. “But I’ve seen a lot of people like my friends even who are making their own, cloths masks or giving them out or selling them for you know $2, so I feel as if you just get online you’ll be able to find so many cheap options for different types of masks.”
Facial coverings remain a hot topic among Virginians, one that many hope gains a bit more clarity with the governor’s announcement come Tuesday.
You can watch Northam’s coronavirus news conference at 2 p.m. on WFXR News, here on WFXRtv.com, or on the WFXR News app.