Virginia Governor Issues Emergency Health Order

Government entities continue to take actions intended to safeguard public health as part of the COVID-19 pandemic response. On Tuesday, March 17th, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam issued a public health emergency order, banning more than 10 patrons in restaurants, fitness centers and theatres. This order gives state and local law enforcement the ability to enforce the ban.

His press conference touched on 8 important points:

1.Public gatherings should not be greater than 10 people

2.Those 65 and older with chronic health conditions should self-quarantine

3.All restaurants, fitness centers, and theaters are mandated to significantly reduce their capacity to 10 patrons, or close. Restaurants are encouraged to continue carry-out and take-out options.

4. Actions to support affected workers:

Governor Northam has directed the Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission to waive the one-week waiting period

Workers may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to temporarily slow or cease operations due to COVID-19.

For those receiving unemployment insurance, Governor Northam is directing the Virginia Employment Commission to give affected workers special consideration on deadlines, mandatory re-employment appointments, and work search requirements.

5. Support for affected employers

Regional workforce teams will be activated to support employers that slow or cease operations. Those employers will not be financially penalized for an increase in workers requesting unemployment benefits.

Governor Northam is authorizing rapid response funding, through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, for employers eligible to remain open during this emergency. Funds may be used to clean facilities and support emergency needs.

6.Virginia’s 75 DMV offices will close to the public

Online services will remain available, which includes both renewing a license or vehicle registration

For those who cannot renew online, or whose license or registration expires before May 15, DMV will grant a 60-day extension

7.Court closures across Virginia

Until Monday, April 6, non-essential, non-emergency court proceedings in all district and circuit courts are suspended absent a specific exemption.

8.Utilities suspending service disconnections

The State Corporation Commission (SCC) issued an order directing utilities in Virginia to suspend service disconnections for 60 days to provide immediate relief for any customer, residential and business, who may be financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The full text of Governor’s order can be found with this story on our website.

We thank WSLS Channel 10 for some of the information in this story.

Story By

Scott Smith

Scott is the News Director for Allegheny Mountain Radio and Station Coordinator and News Reporter for WVLS. Scott’s family has deep roots in Highland County. While he did not grow up here, he spent as much time as possible on the family farm, and eventually moved to Highland to continue the tradition, which he still pursues with his cousin. Unfortunately, farming doesn’t pay all the bills, so he has taken other jobs to support his farming hobby, including pressman/writer for The Recorder, and Ag Projects Coordinator for The Highland Center. He lives in Hightown with wife Michelle and son Ethan, and also is a member of the boards of the Highland-Bath Farm Bureau , Highland Chamber of Commerce and Highland Sheep and Wool Association. In his spare time, he wishes he had more spare time, especially to ride his prized Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

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