Governor Northam's order requiring wearing face coverings is grounded in science and data, including recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control
(CDC). Face coverings do not take the place of public health guidelines to maintain six feet of physical distancing, increased cleaning and sanitation, and washing hands regularly.
In announcing the face covering requirement, the Governor said: "This is a matter of public health, and as a result, any enforcement that is needed will be done by our health officials. This is not a criminal manner – and our law enforcement, our police, and our sheriffs will not have a role in enforcing this. I'm not looking for people to get in trouble by not wearing a mask, but I am looking for people to please do the right thing. I am asking people to respect one another." Face coverings have been found to protect others from virus transmission from the wearer, not the wearer from transmission from others. Wearing a mask
, is part of a regimen that protects yourself and others. Conversely, others wearing face coverings serve to protect you.
A face covering includes anything that covers your nose and mouth (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.
, comparing nations mandating use of face masks, undertaken by researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University, indicates that face coverings dramatically lower COVID-19 death rates.