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VA orders stay-at-home lockdown; jail and fines for groups 10+ and more

Ralph S. Northam (Mark Warner/WikiCommons)
March 30, 2020

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates as more information becomes available.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam on Monday issued an executive order for everyone in Virginia stay home and reiterated another order Northam reiterated against people congregating in groups larger than 10 people.

Northam’s latest executive order comes with the stated purpose of reinforcing a previous he latest order from last week which would punish gatherings of more than 10 people with a class 1 misdemeanor. In Virginia such an offense is punishable with up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine or both.

The new order will remain in effect until June 10, unless otherwise revised or rescinded by the governor.

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The order allows for people to engage in outdoor activities so long as they maintain strict social distancing of at least six feet from other people.

Northam announced the new executive action after noting many people had still gone to beaches and other public places despite past guidance to take up mitigation practices meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Northam said people congregating at beaches are “completely ignoring what we’re doing and I will remind those folks, you are being very very selfish, because you are putting all of us, especially our healthcare providers at risk.”

Northam went on to say past social distancing guidelines “have been a suggestion to Virginians; today, it’s an order.”

During his press briefing, Northam was asked whether the latest order came with additional penalties. Northam said the Class 1 misdemeanor classification would continue to apply to limit  groups to 10 people, including in schools, and stores deemed nonessential, but made no indication of punishments for individuals who violate the stay at home order. The specific rules regarding groups larger than 10 apply through April 23.

Last week New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy also instituted a stay at home order and state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal’s office indicated those who violated the order could be subject to  disorderly persons charges, which are punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine or both.

According to USA Today, Wisconsin, Indiana, Michigan, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Delaware, Ohio, California, New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Connecticut, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Washington, New Mexico, Nevada and Puerto Rico have all instituted various measures limiting people and businesses deemed ‘non-essential.’

Northam’s latest order also comes after President Donald Trump declared in a Sunday press briefing that the previously imposed 15 days of social distancing and disease mitigation guidelines would be extended until April 30.