RICHMOND, Va. (WHSV) — Virginia State Police have laid out their enforcement plans for implementing Governor Ralph Northam's latest executive orders.
WHSV file image of Virginia State Police
According to a statement issued by VSP on Wednesday, they're asking all Virginians to adhere to the governor's order by doing their part and staying home to fight the spread of COVID-19.
State troopers, for their protection and the safety of the public, have been minimizing contact with the public.
All department recruitment events, public presentations, training, and ceremonies have been canceled or postponed through June 10, which is the date Northam set for the 'Stay at Home' order and Virginia's state of emergency to expire.
State Police have been directed, alongside local law enforcement agencies, to address violations of Executive Order 53, which closed many non-essential businesses and banned gatherings of more than 10 people, and Executive Order 55, which issued the 'Stay at Home' order.
State troopers say they'll address initial violations of the orders with education and warnings.
But repeated violation will result in a person or business being charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor, as stated by Gov. Northam in his Monday and Wednesday briefings.
That carries up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
The directives being enforced are:
• Prohibition of all public and private in-person, indoor and outdoor gatherings of more than 10 individuals – with the exception of the operation of businesses not required to close under EO 53 and the gathering of family members living in the same residence;
• Closure of all dining and congregation areas in restaurants, dining establishments, food courts, breweries, microbreweries, distilleries, wineries, tasting rooms and farmers markets;
• Any brick and mortar retail business (not listed in paragraph 5 of EO 53) failing to limit all in-person shopping to no more than 10 patrons per establishment. If any such business cannot adhere to the 10-patron limit with proper social distancing requirements, it must close.
• Closure of all public access to recreational and entertainment businesses;
• Closure of public beaches for all activity, except for exercising and fishing;
• Cancellation of in-person classes and instruction at institutions of higher education;
• Cessation of all reservations for overnight stays of less than 14 nights at all privately-owned campgrounds
Every violation will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, according to Virginia State Police.
Police say they're required to uphold the laws of the commonwealth and so they will keep having a visible presence in communities and on the roads to protect public safety for those still working and traveling.
The law still requires troopers to have reasonable suspicion to pull someone over, and police say they will not be making random traffic stops or conducting checkpoints to see if a driver is traveling for a permissible reason.
The current directives issued by Virginia's state government:
• Do not require an individual to carry documentation related to one’s purpose of travel;
• Do not close Virginia roads/interstates to Virginia residents;
• Do not restrict non-Virginia residents from traveling into and/or through Virginia;
• Do not prevent Virginians from traveling out of the state. State police does encourage any Virginian(s) traveling out-of-state to check, in advance, the other state(s) for any travel restrictions in effect for that state(s). Governor Northam has advised Virginians returning from out-of-state and/or international travel to self-quarantine for at least 14 days.
Other questions about Virginia's 'Stay at Home' order are answered at www.virginia.gov/coronavirus/faq.