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How will Virginia’s stay-at-home order be enforced? Here’s what local law enforcement says

Violation of Executive Order 55 is Class 1 misdemeanor

ROANOKE, Va. – After Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam issued a stay-at-home order on Monday, many are left wondering if and how it will be enforced.

Virginians are urged by the governor to stay at home and avoid any unnecessary trips except for things like traveling to or from work, buying groceries and supplies, seeking medical attention, or going outside for fresh air or exercise. [Click here to read Executive Order 55 in its entirety]

Northam said violation of the prohibitions listed in Executive Order 55 is a Class 1 misdemeanor.

10 News reached out to local law enforcement agencies to learn more about how they will enforce the stay-at-home order.

These are the responses we’ve received so far:

Alleghany County / Covington:

We will continue to post on our social media page reminders of social distancing and proper hand sanitizing along . We will also remind people, and businesses of the 10 person limit while on patrols!”

Blacksburg:

"Our focus has been on educating the community and responding to calls of gatherings that may violate the 10 person rule. Many of these calls have turned out to be within the 10 person limit. We have taken the opportunity to educate these groups about keeping the groups as small as possible as well as the distancing guidelines.

There are many exceptions to the stay at home order at this point. We will take each call one by one and continue to educate the public and take what appropriate enforcement action as necessary."

Carroll County:

"I understand that this is a difficult and frustrating time for everyone, but I sincerely ask that everyone adhere to this order and take this order seriously. We must think of the safety of ourselves, our families, friends and our community.

Please know that my office will continue to operate and continue to work hard to serve at maintaining the public’s safety to the best of our abilities. The Governor has made it clear that it is a Class 1 Misdemeanor for any violations of this order. We do not want to charge anyone with this violation, so I ask for all citizens to abide by this order and not put any law enforcement agency in a position to take action. Please be patient as we all work through this difficult time together."

Christiansburg:

"We are pleased to see the Governor’s decision to strengthen the order for Virginians to stay home and limit gatherings in response to the pandemic. We are at a critical point in this battle and we are calling on the members of our community to step up and voluntarily do the socially responsible thing. It will be difficult as it represents an enormous change in our normal daily lives. No one likes to have their activities or freedoms curtailed, but this is a time when we must all set aside our personal preferences and do what is right, not just for ourselves, but also our friends, families and neighbors. We have been working diligently with our partners in the Montgomery County Public Health Task Force to take every possible step to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on our community. Much of that work has been focused on working to ensure that our hospitals, medical providers and first responders are prepared for increasing numbers of cases in the area and that those critical services are not overwhelmed by a sudden surge in cases. We are calling on the members of the community to do their part to help achieve this goal by voluntarily adhering to the Governor’s order and limiting their travel to that which is truly necessary, and furthermore, to restrict gatherings, both public and private, to less than 10 people, and even then adhering to proper social distancing guidelines.

We are confident that the vast majority of our citizens will be socially responsible and voluntarily adhere to the Governor’s order. In the event that some choose to defy the order, law enforcement officers will enforce the order, initially through verbal request. If those direct requests are unsuccessful, it may be necessary to enforce the order through enforcement action that may include issuing a summons or, in extreme cases, making arrests. We hope that will not be necessary and are counting on our community to support the fight against COVID-19. This is a moment in history that will define a generation and it is an opportunity for every member of our community to be a hero by being disciplined, responsible, and by engaging in short-term sacrifice to ensure a better long-term outcome for everyone."

Danville:

"In these uncertain times, we want our community to understand how we are working to keep you safe and answer some frequently asked questions regarding the Governor’s Executive Order 55.

Governor Northam noted yesterday’s news conference that there was very little difference between the new directive and the previous restrictions already in place.

Here are a few questions our citizens have asked and we hope the answers will help you better plan your days ahead:

Q: Will the police stop me or pull me over to see if my travel is for essential reasons? A: Simply put-no. The Governor said, “This is not a time when we are looking to put people in jail, [but it is] a time when I expect all Virginians to comply [with these directives].”

Q: What will/can the police enforce? A: These are tough times but we have seen Danville banding together to help one another and most establishments and community members are voluntarily complying with the directives. However, the following acts would constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor: 1. Public or private in-person gatherings of 10 or more individuals (This restriction does not apply to: a. To the operation of businesses not required to close to the public under b. To the gathering of family members living in the same residence. 2. Failure to close dining or congregation areas in restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms and farmers markets. 3. Failure to close all public access to recreational and entertainment businesses. 4. Failure of any “brick and mortar” retail business, not deemed essential, to limit all inperson shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment. 5. Failure of any “brick and mortar” retail business, not deemed essential, to close if it cannot adhere to the 10-patron limit with proper social distancing requirements.

Q: Can I still walk my dog or take my children to the Riverwalk Trail? A: Yes, as long as you are maintaining a safe social distance of 6 feet from people who are not a part of your household.

Q: What about church services? A: Citizens are encouraged to seek alternative means of attending religious services, such as virtually or via “drive-through” worship. Places of worship that do conduct in-person services must limit gatherings to 10 people to comply with the statewide 10-person ban.

You may call us at 434-799-6510 if you have a procedural question and we will do our best to work through these directives together. For additional information, we included links to Executive Order 55, frequently asked questions and the City of Danville’s website. We encourage you to read these and please remember that we are in this together."

Franklin County:

"Yesterday, March 30th, 2020, Governor Northam has issued a temporary stay at home order due to the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), extending to June 10, 2020. This order, number fifty-five, is placing restrictions on public gatherings solely to protect each person. The Office of the Sheriff is encouraging everyone to take these restrictions seriously.

“These are unprecedented times that we must all take the necessary precautions to protect our loved ones and our entire community”, Sheriff Overton said. “The health and well-being of all residents should be on the hearts and minds of each person. We must sacrifice as a whole for the safety of all in our community.”

The Office of the Sheriff is encouraging all Franklin County residents to follow Governor Northam’s order to stay at home, and when necessary to leave your residence, to practice social distancing of remaining at least 6 feet from others. These restrictions are to protect you, your loved ones, and your community.

Sheriff Overton and his administration will continue to utilize guidance from the Office of the Governor, the Virginia Department of Health, and the local COVID-19 task force to monitor the spread. We will continue to keep our enforcement and visibility a priority for our community, with various safety measures put into place. Those measures include, but are not limited to, wearing masks, gloves, protective eye wear, lessening contact with the public when possible, and exercising social distancing when possible. We are constantly re-assessing and utilizing information from the sources mentioned above to ensure that we are providing the best services that we can under these unprecedented circumstances."

Lynchburg:

"The Governor’s orders are in the interest of public health, and our goal for this public health emergency is for our community to voluntarily comply with these orders to ensure the long-term health and well-being of our community.

Our response to any calls related to the Governor's Executive Orders is resource-dependent. The Lynchburg Police Department will continue to prioritize calls as we do every day. Based on our initial assessments, our call load remains consistent. As we receive calls for businesses that may be violating the Governor's Order, our first step is education because there is still a lot of confusion in the community as to the specifics of the orders.

We encourage all residents and business owners to read the details of Executive Orders 53 and 55. Again, we want to rely on compliance first rather than enforcement. If we have businesses or individuals that continue to violate the orders despite multiple warnings, we will enforce the order. Certain provisions in the Order could result in a Class 1 misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. Additionally, there are other implications from the state level, such as licensing, for businesses that do not comply with the order.

The LPD encourages all residents to follow the Governor's Orders, as well as guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Virginia Department of Health and only leave the house for essential needs as outlined in Executive Order 55. We all have a part in slowing the spread and how serious we take this directly affects how long this disease will disrupt our lives.

Again, this is not always about you or me as an individual, it is about our neighbors, friends, and coworkers who may be more susceptible to this virus. This is a time when we have to change our practices or be slightly inconvenienced, all for the greater good."

Roanoke City:

“City leaders are still determining the best course of action right now, but they’re hosting a press conference tomorrow (Wednesday) and will be able to answer more questions then.”

Roanoke County:

“The Governor’s order clearly stresses the importance of social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Likewise, we are urging our citizens to adhere to the suggested distancing of six feet from other individuals and follow the group size requirements of 10 or fewer at all times. Roanoke County government buildings will remain closed to the public and business conducted by phone, online or by appointment. Our parks and trails are a valuable source of enjoyment and we are currently looking at how the Governor’s order may impact these outdoor amenities. We ask our citizens to follow the directives of the Governor as well as the recommendations by the CDC and Virginia Department of Health. The safety and well-being of the community is our top priority.”

Virginia State Police:

“The Virginia State Police continues to encourage all Virginians to take the Governor’s advisory seriously and do their part by staying home in order to help stem the exposure and spread of COVID-19 within the Commonwealth. State police is required to uphold the laws of the Commonwealth and will continue to have a visible presence within our communities and on the roads for the safety of those living, working, and traveling through Virginia. Violations of the declaration are being assessed on a case-by-case basis.”


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