Alexandria to implement stricter mask-wearing requirements

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Alexandria to implement stricter mask-wearing requirements
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By Missy Schrott | mschrott@alextimes.com

City Council voted to pass an ordinance requiring face coverings in certain indoor and outdoor locations at its public hearing on Saturday.

The ordinance will go into effect on Oct. 1. The ordinance requires that face coverings be worn in all indoor locations, other than a personal residence or vehicle, and all outdoor locations where physical distancing cannot be achieved.

The city mandate is somewhat stricter than Gov. Ralph Northam’s statewide mask requirement, which is limited to indoor public spaces. However, there is no penalty for disobeying the Alexandria ordinance, while failing to follow the state mandate could result in a class one misdemeanor.

There are exemptions to both the city and state mandates, including children under the age of 10 and people with certain medical conditions or disabilities. People are allowed to remove their mask while exercising, eating and drinking. The Alexandria mandate specifies that at restaurants, people must continue to wear their face covering while “waiting to receive food or beverages, or during substantial breaks between periods of eating and drinking.”

Staff proposed that council impose a $100 civil penalty for noncompliance; however, council elected to remove the fine. City Manager Mark Jinks said the fine would have strengthened the ordinance, but noted that enforcement is challenging. City Attorney Joanna Anderson said that if a fine was attached to the ordinance, city staff would need to determine who would issue the civil penalties, which would require a degree of training.

Council ultimately passed the ordinance without a fine attached.

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