Yesterday, Governor Ralph Northam signed Executive Order Sixty-Three, requiring Virginians to wear face coverings in public indoor settings to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. This new executive order is intended to protect workers and consumers as the Commonwealth gradually eases public health restrictions. This requirement goes into effect Friday, May 29. Face coverings do not take the place of public health guidelines to maintain six feet of physical distancing, increase cleaning and sanitation and wash hands regularly. A face covering includes anything that covers your nose and mouth, such as a mask, scarf or bandana. Medical-grade masks and personal protective equipment should be reserved for health care professionals. Under the Governor’s executive order, any person age ten and older must wear a mask or face covering at all times while entering, exiting, traveling through and spending time in the following public settings:
- Personal care and grooming businesses
- Essential and non-essential brick and mortar retail including grocery stores and pharmacies
- Food and beverage establishments
- Entertainment or public amusement establishments when permitted to open
- Train stations, bus stations, and on intrastate public transportation, including in waiting or congregating areas
- State and local government buildings and areas where the public accesses services
- Any indoor space shared by groups of people who may congregate within six feet of one another or who are in close proximity to each other for more than ten minutes
Exemptions to these guidelines include while eating and drinking at a food and beverage establishment; individuals who are exercising; children under the age of two; a person seeking to communicate with a hearing-impaired person, for which the mouth needs to be visible; and anyone with a health condition that keeps them from wearing a face covering. Children over the age of two are strongly encouraged to wear a face covering to the extent possible.
To learn more about face coverings and how to properly wear them, visit the Virginia Department of Health website.