Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced plans to step up enforcement of coronavirus restrictions statewide, citing an increase in cases especially in the tourist area of Hampton Roads.
“There's clearly some substantial community spread. A lot of that increase is driven by people socializing, without wearing masks, especially young people. As a matter of fact, the increase in the age group of 20 to 29-year-olds from here, compared to early June, is up 250%,” he said. “And it is very concerning.”
Virginia’s Department of Health will immediately deploy 100 additional inspectors to ramp up enforcement of mask-wearing and social distancing. The governor also called on restaurant and business owners to take action, warning their licenses will be on the line.
“If a patron of your establishment is violating the rules, you have the ability to say no. It's just like the signs in so many store windows that say ‘No shirt, no shoes, no service.’ Now it should be ‘No shirt, no shoes, no mask, no service,'" Northam said. “You don't have to serve a patron who's not wearing a face covering. You can tell them to leave. And if they don't, they're trespassing and you can, in turn, call the police.”
Health Commissioner Dr. Norman Oliver said the overwhelming majority of Virginians have been “doing the right thing,” which is why the state has not seen a spike in coronavirus cases like Florida or Texas.
“However, there are a number of people who have in fact not been following the guidelines and, as the governor says, we are going to get much stricter in enforcing those guidelines," he said.