Virginians ordered to wear masks inside public buildings. Here are the exceptions.

Posted at 2:32 PM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 07:55:18-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Everyone in Virginia will need to wear a face cover, or mask, when inside a public building starting on Friday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced Tuesday.

“I am taking this step because science increasingly shows us that the virus spreads less easily when everyone is wearing face coverings,” Governor Northam said.

Face coverings must be worn by anyone 10 years old and older in the following spaces:

1. Personal care and personal grooming businesses, including but not limited to, beauty salons, barbershops, spas, massage centers, tanning salons, tattoo shops, and any other location where personal care or personal grooming services are provided.

2. All brick and mortar retail businesses, including both essential and non-essential brick and mortar retail businesses.

3. Food and beverage establishments, including but not limited to, restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms, and farmers markets, when permitted to reopen for indoor dining.

4. Entertainment or recreation businesses, including but not limited to, racetracks, historic horse racing facilities, theaters, performing arts centers, concert venues, museums, and other indoor entertainment centers, bowling alleys, skating rinks, arcades, amusement parks, trampoline parks, fairs, arts and craft facilities, aquariums, zoos, escape rooms, public and private social clubs, and all other places of indoor public amusement, once permitted to reopen to the public. Face coverings shall also be required when patrons are outdoors at these businesses if a distance of six feet from every other person cannot be maintained.

5. Train stations, bus stations, and intrastate public transportation, including buses, rideshares, trains, taxis, and cars for hire, as well as any waiting or congregating areas associated with boarding public transportation. This requirement shall not apply in any area under federal jurisdiction or control.

6. Any other indoor place shared by groups of people who are in close proximity to each other. This restriction does not apply to persons while inside their residence or the personal residence of another. Face coverings may be removed to participate in a religious ritual.

7. State or local government buildings when accessed for the purpose of securing public services, with the exception of students in daycare centers or participating in-person classes in K-12 education or institutions of higher education.

There are exceptions to the face-cover rule:

1. While eating or drinking;
2. Individuals exercising or using exercise equipment;
3. Any person who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance;
4. Any person seeking to communicate with the hearing impaired and for which the mouth needs to be visible;
5. When temporary removal of the face covering is necessary to secure government or medical services; and
6. Persons with health conditions that prohibit wearing a face covering. Nothing in this Order shall require the use of a face covering by any person for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition.

“Let me speak to you as a doctor,” the governor said. “I strongly recommend any child who is three years old or older, should wear a face covering to the extent possible. I want to be clear, this is about protecting those around us, especially our workers.”

The governor said the mask or face covering does not have to be medical grade.

“You can make your own. You can find a plan on the internet. And all you need is a piece of cloth and some rubber bands,” he said. “You can even grab a bandana. I know that even these steps are going to be difficult for some of our most vulnerable populations throughout this pandemic, we've seen community groups step up to help out. And I hope that can be the case here. If you're a group that can help provide face coverings to people who don't have them, please consider ways to do that.”

The governor called the face-covering order a matter of public health and one that would not be enforced by police.

“This is not a criminal matter,” he said, “Our law enforcement, our police, and our sheriffs will not have a role in enforcing this. I'm not looking for people to get in trouble by not wearing a mask, but I am looking for people to please do the right thing. I'm asking people to respect one another.”

House Republicans said on Tuesday that they are deeply concerned about the mask requirement.

“We are deeply concerned about Governor Northam’s actions today. It is unconscionable to require businesses to enforce a government mandate under threat of sanction from government agencies. This puts yet another burden on businesses already reeling from months of being shut down or severely limited.

"As I have said from the beginning, we are all in this together. And I just encourage all of you to, to cooperate as best you can and to be part of the solution. And as soon as we can all continue to work together and get this health crisis in a rearview mirror, will we'll be able to return to that near normal," Northam said.

Northam said that because of the incubation period of the virus, it’s too early to make a decision about moving most of the state into phase two and says it will remain in phase one at least through this Friday.

For more about exceptions and the full text of the executive order, click here.

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