Sheriff explains that Virginia law does not prevent wearing a mask while carrying concealed

Published: May. 28, 2020 at 5:46 PM EDT
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Since Virginia Governor Ralph Northam announced

earlier this week to require masks within Virginia's businesses, people have had a lot of questions about it.

Many of those have been related to how

will be enforced by the health department, which the governor and his legal counsel addressed in-depth at


But another relates to how the order affects current Virginia law against wearing masks while carrying concealed weapons.

Shortly after the governor announced Virginia's mask order, a number of people shared posts on social media insinuating that it would be illegal for people carrying concealed to wear a facial covering at the same time.

But that's simply not true, because Virginia is under a state of emergency due to COVID-19.

On Tuesday, the governor extended Virginia's state of emergency from an expiration date of June 10 to make it indefinite, which he said will help the state continue being able to work with the National Guard for testing and continue being able to cover telehealth with Medicaid.

Northam had already addressed earlier in the pandemic that under the public health emergency, Virginia's

would not be enforced by Virginia State Police or local law enforcement.

After receiving numerous questions if wearing a face covering would actually violate Virginia code while carrying a concealed weapon, Augusta County Sheriff Donald Smith issued a lengthy statement explaining why that's not the case on Thursday evening.

Sheriff Smith says wearing a face mask that covers your nose and mouth while carrying a weapon is not a violation of Virginia code because it's due to a state of emergency and due to orders from the governor.

Below is the full section of applicable of Virginia Code:

§ 18.2-422. Prohibition of wearing of masks in certain places; exceptions. It shall be unlawful for any person over 16 years of age to, with the intent to conceal his identity, wear any mask, hood or other device whereby a substantial portion of the face is hidden or covered so as to conceal the identity of the wearer, to be or appear in any public place, or upon any private property in this Commonwealth without first having obtained from the owner or tenant thereof consent to do so in writing. However, the provisions of this section shall not apply to persons (i) wearing traditional holiday costumes; (ii) engaged in professions, trades, employment or other activities and wearing protective masks which are deemed necessary for the physical safety of the wearer or other persons; (iii) engaged in any bona fide theatrical production or masquerade ball; or (iv) wearing a mask, hood or other device for bona fide medical reasons upon (a) the advice of a licensed physician or osteopath and carrying on his person an affidavit from the physician or osteopath specifying the medical necessity for wearing the device and the date on which the wearing of the device will no longer be necessary and providing a brief description of the device, or (b) the declaration of a disaster or state of emergency by the Governor in response to a public health emergency where the emergency declaration expressly waives this section, defines the mask appropriate for the emergency, and provides for the duration of the waiver. The violation of any provisions of this section is a Class 6 felony.

From The Sheriff’s Desk I have received numerous questions regarding the Governor’s Executive Orders to wear a mask,...

Posted by Augusta County Sheriff's Office - Sheriff Donald L. Smith on Thursday, May 28, 2020