The novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, has affected more than the two million people who have been infected with the virus, and the more than 110,000 people who have died from it. The government’s response to the virus has impacted every American in unimaginable ways. From school and business closures to stay-at-home orders, the last few months have been challenging for everyone, even those who were fortunate enough to remain healthy.
The latest changes Virginians are facing is a new law that requires they wear cloth coverings over their face. The Centers for Disease Control have recommended that the use of masks reduces the spread of COVID-19. However, the choice to wear a mask remained optional until recently. Last month, Governor Ralph Northam signed an executive order requiring Virginians to wear cloth coverings – or face masks – while in certain public places. The objective of the new executive order is to reduce the spread of COVID-19, which, as of early June, had infected nearly 50,000 people in Virginia and claimed over 1,500 lives.
Executive Order 63 went into effect May 29, 2020, and requires individuals over the age of ten wear a mask when visiting the following places and businesses:
- Personal grooming businesses
- Retail stores
- Entertainment venues
- Recreational businesses
- State and local government buildings
- Train stations and other places of public transportation
According to the Virginia Department of Health, a cloth covering should:
- Fit snugly on the face;
- Have ear loops that hold the mask in place;
- Consist of more than one layer of fabric; and
- Be able to be washed, dried, and re-used.
Many Virginians are taking issue with the new law, as it places yet another restriction on their freedom in a time when there have already been significant limits on the liberty of Virginians. One of the major concerns many Virginians share is that a failure to comply with the new law may result in criminal prosecution. Specifically, the Governor’s executive order explains that “any willful violation or refusal, failure, or neglect to comply” with the order is “punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.” Under Virginia law, anyone convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor can be fined up to $2,500 and sentenced to one year in prison. While the Governor appears to be hopeful that enforcement of the executive order will not require this type of prosecution, it remains unseen if that will be the case.
Have You Been Cited for Failing to Wear a Mask in Public?
If you have recently been cited or arrested for not wearing a mask while in public, reach out to a dedicated Virginia criminal defense attorney to discuss your options. The experienced attorneys at the Virginia criminal defense law firm of Robinson Law, PLLC, have an exemplary reputation for standing up for those who are facing all types for criminal charges, including Virginia assault charges, drug crimes, and more. We understand the burdens that a pending criminal case can have on you and your family, and take every step to help you overcome these challenges and move on with your life. To speak with an attorney today, call 703-542-3616 to schedule a free consultation.