We have received numerous inquiries about the effect of Governor Northam’s May 14 Order which eases many Covid restrictions. There is much confusion about this issue. The Governor’s May 14 EO 79, which takes effect at midnight on May 28, focuses primarily on relaxing the mask requirements. In addition, however, the order, states:
“Further, this Order terminates Seventh Amended Number Seventy-Two (2021) and Order of Public Health Emergency Nine, shall be effective midnight on May 28, 2021, and shall remain in full force and effect until amended or rescinded by further executive order.”
That Seventh Amended EO 72 is the Order which provides many of the other Covid-related restrictions such as gathering limits and distancing requirements. Since the new EO 79 terminates the restrictions of EO 72, those restrictions will no longer apply in Virginia after May 28 except as otherwise noted in EO 79.
In addition, EO 72 states that it governs over the Final Permanent Standard for Infectious Disease Prevention of the SARSCoV-2 Virus that Causes COVID-19 adopted by the Safety and Health Codes Board of the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry if that Standard conflicts with requirements and guidelines applicable to businesses. We anticipate that the Safety and Health Codes Board will issue clarification at some point about what portions of the Standard still apply. They are scheduled to meet June 10.
The Virginia Department of Health recognizes that the Governor’s most recent Order relaxes many restrictions, but the VDH recommends maintaining best practices for masking, distancing, handwashing and other measures to control the spread Covid.
The Governor’s orders can be found at the link Virginia Governor Ralph Northam - Executive Actions.
John Falcone and Luke Malloy handle employment law matters at PLDR Law. Feel free to contact us if you have questions about this matter.