Northam COVID-19

Gov. Northam speaks during a press conference.

Gov. Ralph Northam is weighing the details of a statewide order requiring people to wear face masks to contain the spread of COVID-19, with an announcement planned for Tuesday.

“Face coverings are an important part of the next steps. We’ll have more on that next week,” Northam said Friday, adding that his “homework” for Virginians is to procure face coverings for themselves and their families over the weekend.

The details of the policy remain unresolved, but Northam said he was looking at a requirement “especially for individuals going into businesses.”

“We’re trying to work through some of the details,” Northam added. “It’s an equity issue. We want to make sure everyone has access to a mask, and we also want to talk about how we enforce that.”

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, who previously advocated for a delay of the city’s reopening, asked Northam this week to issue a face mask order for the city in a bid to contain the virus.

“I applaud the mayor for wanting to do what’s safe in our city of Richmond. We also know facial protection is one of the ways we stop the spread of this virus,” Northam said.

Northam said the new mask policy would apply to all of Virginia, not just Richmond.

Also next week, Northam said he expects to have an update on when the state might be able to move onto the second phase of reopening, and when Northern Virginia, Richmond and Accomack County might be able to move into the first phase.

Ahead of Memorial Day weekend, Northam said that residents of those areas, which remain under a stay-at-home order, should continue to limit their travel.

“Unless it’s essential, we don’t expect people to be traveling in those particular areas,” Northam said. “They are still under the stay-at-home order, so we would encourage them to abide by those guidelines.”

Also Friday, the Virginia Department of Health launched a new tool to help guide and educate people who fear they may have COVID-19, and connect them with appropriate resources.

The tool, called COVID Check, can be found at vdh.virginia.gov/covidcheck.

mleonor@timesdispatch.com

(804) 649-6254

Twitter: @MelLeonor_

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