‘We follow the rules’: Roanoke businesses prepare for crackdown on mask mandate

Local health districts moving from education to enforcement

ROANOKE, Va. – After Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday local health departments will begin to crack down on coronavirus restrictions, including the mask mandate, business licenses could be on the line amid the plan for stricter guidelines.

Several local business owners told 10 News they’ve already been enforcing the rules, mainly those regarding face masks.

Others said it’s a tough decision, especially if it means turning away much-needed customers.

Northam’s announcement on Tuesday changes the role of the health department from a policy of education to also include one of enforcement.

A letter from state health commissioner Dr. Norm Oliver to local health districts says in week three of Phase Three, they should now assume all permitted facilities are well versed in the requirements and should begin to enforce them.

This is on top of deploying 100 additional inspectors and asking businesses to enforce the rules on their own. Most of the additional health inspectors will be deployed in the hard-hit Hampton Roads area, but Northam said increased enforcement is a statewide effort.

Northam said “we’re watching” and local businesses told 10 News they’re listening.

“We follow the rules, we go by the protocols, we will just continue to do what we are instructed to do,” said Anissa Soprano, general manager at Tuco’s in Roanoke.

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