Sheriff’s Office to investigate order violations

Published 1:16 pm Wednesday, April 8, 2020

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Charlotte County Sheriff Royal Freeman says his office will investigate complaints in regard to those violating Governor Ralph Northam’s executive orders.

Executive Order (EO) 55 brought the Stay-at-Home Order on Monday, March 30 and EO 53 enacted a week before, included a directive that closed K-12 schools and businesses deemed non-essential. The directive also prohibited all public and private in-person gatherings of 10 or more individuals, among other mandates.

“The sheriff’s office understands their responsibilities to the county in these trying times and plans to uphold those responsibilities to the citizens,” Freeman said. “We ask the members of the community to stay home if possible, be mindful of social distancing, and, most importantly, to stay safe.”

Freeman said his deputies are using universal precautions, as always, on every call and deputies have been issued personal protective equipment.

“All callers to dispatch are being asked additional screening questions,” Freeman said. “This is to give the responding officers any extra information to assist them in answering the call, for example, if extra precautionary equipment is needed.

“Governor Northam has directed state and local law enforcement officials to initially address violations of the following EO 53 and EO 55 directives with education and warnings,” a Virginia State Police (VSP) press release stated. “Persistent violation of these directives can result in individual(s) or business being charged with a Class One misdemeanor, which carries up to a year in jail and $2,500 fine.”

VSP Public Relations Director Corinne N. Geller said, “Virginia State Police will not be making random traffic stops on vehicles nor conducting checkpoints to determine if a driver is traveling for a permissible reason, as granted by EO 53 and EO 55.”

The governor’s EO related to COVID-19 does not require an individual to carry documentation related to purpose of travel. It also does not close Virginia roads or interstates to Virginia residents. The order also doesn’t restrict non-Virginia residents from traveling into and/or through Virginia nor does it prevent Virginians from traveling out of the state.

Residents are encouraged to check requirements for other states before traveling outside Virginia and are advised to self-quarantine for at least 14 days upon returning.

Currently, the following rules are in effect:

  • 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 five 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.