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New mandate requires masks

Gov. Ralph Northam’s Executive Order Sixty-Three, requiring Virginians to wear face coverings in public indoor settings to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, took effect Friday, May 29.

A face covering includes anything that covers the nose and mouth, such as a mask, scarf, or bandana.

Northam’s face mask order came after he was photographed standing with people while taking a selfie and not wearing a mask in Virginia Beach over Memorial Day weekend.

“We are making progress in containing the spread of COVID-19, and now is not the time for Virginians to get complacent,” Northam said. “Science shows that face coverings are an effective way to prevent transmission of the virus, but wearing them is also a sign of respect. This is about doing the right thing to protect the people around us and keep everyone safe.”

Under the governor’s executive order, any person age 10 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, 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 and state and local government buildings and areas where the public accesses services.

Exemptions to these guidelines include while eating and drinking at a food and beverage establishment; individuals who are exercising; children under the age of 2; a person seeking to communicate with a hearing-impaired person.

Several Charlotte County citizens and businesses are following the guidelines and believe that wearing face masks do help with the spread of the virus.

A sign was out front of Charlotte Drug Store in Charlotte Courthouse on Friday, May 29, informing customers face masks were required.

On Friday, Food Lion in Keysville was operating as usual with no signs informing customers as to if they could or could not enter without a face mask.

The county’s many Dollar General stores appeared the same.

Dollar General Corporate offices said gloves and face coverings were available to employees, but did not mention any requirements for customers who shop there.

“We are committed to providing our employees and customers with a safe, healthful environment in which to work and shop,” Angela Petkovic with Dollar General Corporation public relations said. “Stores have implemented social distancing measures designed to help both employees and customers remain six feet apart. Our Virginia stores have adopted a number of measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also includes adhering to statewide guidelines. To that end, we have made gloves and facial covering available to Virginia employees.”

James Gregory Sr. of Drakes Branch is one who feels wearing a face mask is the right thing to do.

“I wear a face mask in the required places now,” Gregory said, “Before the mandate, I did about 50% of the time. As I learned more about how the virus is spread, I was happy to follow the rules. Those that are vulnerable need to be considered. I just want to do my part to help control the spread of the virus. I don’t worry about being required or feel my rights are violated by doing so.”

For one Keysville area nurse who asked not to be identified, she feels the mask mandate will not help much and only wears a mask because she works with COVID-19 positive patients.

“The surgical or homemade masks will only partially prevent the spread of your own secretions that may contain COVID-19 (and other viral infections),” she said. “They do not stop the virus from entering the mask. A properly fitted N95 will. However, it ideally should be changed after each use. If people would maintain safe distancing and wash their hands, cover coughs, and sneezes, the spread would be less.”