Virginians could see new requirements regarding face coverings as the state looks to continue easing restrictions on businesses.
Gov. Ralph Northam suggested that he would make an announcement Tuesday on the details of those plans.
“We’re working through the policy,” Northam said. “It’s an equity issue — we want to make sure everyone has access to a mask. We also want to talk about how we enforce that.”
Northam noted any rules would be for all of Virginia.
“Wearing a mask could literally save someone else’s life,” he said. “Face coverings are an important part of the next steps, and we’ll have more to say on that next week.”
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney sent a letter to the governor Friday calling for required face coverings when people are in public and social distancing isn’t possible.
The city is still under stay-at-home restrictions, delaying a Phase One reopening until at least May 29, but Stoney said he was concerned about reports of people not wearing masks in grocery stores and other public places in communities near the city that have entered Phase One.
“I am concerned that this trend will continue as we move closer to reopening, which could potentially counter the efforts we have made to contain the spread of COVID-19,” Stoney said.
On Friday, Marine Corps Base Quantico announced that face coverings would be required for entrance into all of the mess halls on base.
NO RELIEF FOR PWC RESTAURANTS
Prince William County and Manassas officials, along with the Prince William Chamber of Commerce, had asked the governor to allow restaurants to reopen outdoor spaces this weekend, but Northam rejected the request Friday.
“We are not allowing that,” Northam said, referring to a variety of calls from local leaders in areas that were not part of reopening May 15.
The governor said he has been in contact with leaders in Northern Virginia and will have more information next week regarding any potential reopening.
NEW TESTING TOOL
Northam also rolled out a new online tool to help with symptom checks and finding testing sites.
The page, vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covidcheck, includes tabs to check your symptoms, find a testing site and get answers about COVID-19.
The health department is in the process of hiring hundreds of contact tracers to track coronavirus exposure in the state. Officials will also be hosting 44 large testing events next week that are expected to test 17,000 individuals, Northam said.