Gov. Northam: Masks required at indoor public places starting Friday

Beginning this Friday, all Virginians are required to wear face coverings in indoor public facilities for the foreseeable future, Gov. Ralph Northam stated in this afternoon's press conference. 

The announcement came after Northam said COVID-19 statistical trends were moving in the right direction. 

Face coverings are mandated at indoor facilities such as the following: 

  • Inside all brick and mortar retail establishments 
  • Inside all personal care and grooming establishments
  • Inside places where people congregate
  • Inside food and eating establishments, except when eating 
  • On public transportation
  • Inside state and local government services buildings

Everyone 10-years-old or older must wear a covering. 

Exceptions to wearing face coverings are as follows: 

  • While eating or drinking
  • While exercising 
  • If you are having trouble breathing or unable to move the mask without help
  • If your health conditions prohibit wearing a face covering

Northam said the mandate will not be enforced by law officers at this time, but he will meet with the Virginia General Assembly within the next few months to determine if any further action, such as handing out civil fines or misdemeanors, is necessary. 

For now, the mandate will be under direction of the Virginia Department of Health, which may use legal steps to revoke business licenses from the businesses that do not enforce the face mask policy. 

Northam strongly encouraged everyone to follow the face covering mandate to slow the spread of the virus, however. Northam said face coverings are scientifically proven to slow the spread of the virus but did not give specific details. 

Northam received major public backlash over Memorial Day weekend when he was photographed with a group of people at Virginia Beach without wearing a face mask or practicing social distancing. 

Northam addressed the controversy at the press conference, saying he was at Virginia Beach to meet with various officials but had left his face mask in his car and was caught unprepared when a group of people asked him for a group photograph. Northam apologized and vowed to be prepared at all times in the future.