State, health district, businesses step up enforcement of mask requirements

Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

KILMARNOCK—If the same store that three weeks ago allowed patrons inside without a mask is now pushing the issue, don’t be mad at the store owner or employees. They are following state mandates.

“This is more of a re-emphasis than a new thing,” said David Fridley, environmental health manager with Three Rivers Health District. “It’s to protect both the public and the employees. The employees don’t meet just one person in a day. They are constantly exposed to people all day.”

Gov. Ralph Northam issued a mask order in May. However, he said in a news conference July 14 that the state’s recent increase in COVID-19 cases could be the result of non-compliance of the mandate. He announced the state would be stepping up enforcement and said the Virginia Health Commissioner, Dr. Norman Oliver, sent letters to local health district directors, reminding them they have the authority to enforce the state’s mask mandate.

Although the penalty for ignoring the mandate has gone from not being criminally enforced to a potential misdemeanor, most recently the governor clarified that a business could have its license suspended or revoked for being grossly negligent about the mask… [to-view-more]